Uruguay to take on Japan in Copa America

Porto Alegre (Brazil), Jun 19 (IANS): Uruguay is preparing to take on Japan later this week in a Copa America match that could put the South American squad in the tournament's quarterfinals.

Coach Oscar Washington Tabarez's team heads into Thursday's match with a 4-0 blowout of Ecuador under its belt, reports Efe news.

Uruguay will take on a Japanese team made up mostly of under-23 players and hoping to rebound after being blown out by Chile 4-0 on Monday.

The teams will clash at Arena do Grêmio in Porto Alegre, the Brazilian state capital located closest to Uruguay.

Uruguay and Colombia had the best performances in the first round of play, and Tabarez's squad should be in good shape going up against Japan, the team with the least experienced and weakest defence in the tournament.

The Uruguayans need just one point to qualify for the quarterfinals if Ecuador comes away without any points from its match against Chile.

Based on Uruguay's performance last Sunday, however, it would be surprising if all the squad can manage against Japan is a tie. A poor outing against Japan would call into question Uruguay's position as the favourite to win the 2019 Copa America.

More likely, the powerhouse scoring duo of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani will have a field day against a Japanese defence whose members have an average age of barely 20.

Uruguay, moreover, enters the match with almost an extra full day of preparation and should be more rested than Japan.

Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, for his part, warned that Japan should not be taken lightly because the Asian squad had numerous scoring opportunities that it was unable to convert.

Some 15,000 Uruguayans are expected to travel to Porto Alegre to cheer on the national team, making it seem like a home match for the South American squad.


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