Edinson Cavani’s pass was accurate as it reached its intended target, El Pistolero. Luis Suarez had only a fraction of a second to decide what to do with the ball. He quickly found space behind Paraguay defender Ivan Piris and fed Diego Forlan with ball to make it 3-0. Justo Villar, for once looked vulnerable, after putting up so many man of the match performances in the 2011 Copa America. This victory ensured Uruguay’s 15th Copa America title in Buenos Aires . It was a moment Africa’s cursed man will never forget, a moment to cement his status as one of the best strikers in the world, a time to clear his already tarnished image.
Suarez was former Fulham and Norwegian international Erik Nevland’s strike partner at FC Groningen. His teammates labelled Suarez as being selfish and that he always played for himself. He passed a comment during one of the team’s half-time pep talks.
Nevland told Suarez:
I give you all the balls but when have you ever given me an assist ’. Since then, the Uruguayan provided his colleagues with a lot of assists.
In Groningen he provided 6 assists but it was in Amsterdam that his stock rose. At Ajax, he made fifteen decisive passes averagely in his last season with the Dutch champions. He continued this act at Liverpool, a club he joined in January, where he has made more assists than goals.
He was voted Player of the Tournament at the 2011 Copa America. The former Ajax player was the driving force of a team that proved that the fourth place in the 2010 World Cup was no fluke.
Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had really come of age that season and joined Galatasaray after the tournament. The Diego Lugano -Sebastain Coates central defence partnership blended experience with youth and exuded an unprecedented aggressiveness and will to win. The wing backs Maxi Perreira and Martin Caceres did all the running for ninety minutes on the sidelines and they were one of the best when it came to one-on-one marking.
Perez and Egidio Arevalo were Uruguay’s ‘hoovers’ in midfield for the central duo behind them and also performed defending duties. That granitic block of six gives the other four attacking players space to operate and initiate attacks. Alvaro Gomez and Alvaro Perreira benefited from Perez and Arevalo’s high working rate.
The Forlan-Suarez partnership was one of the best in world football. Suarez had a completely free role. Such a role allowed him to be at his best; an opportunist of the purest kind.
Every opposition coach was forced to let his team respond to the irritating actions of Suarez during games. Martin Jol did that at Ajax and was rewarded with goals and assists. Oscar Tabarez did it with Uruguay and he got the Copa America in return.
Ghanaians will never forget 2nd July, 2010 because of this man who broke the hearts of millions of Africans. The curse has become a blessing in disguise because Africa’s cursed man has become a world star.
The man Africa cursed won the treble with Barcelona this season but he remains sidelined from international football as he serves the final few games of his ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder at the 2014 World Cup. Four players who proved pivotal for Uruguay four years ago will also not be in Chile. Diego Forlan retired from international football while Diego Lugano, Martin Caceres and Sebastian Abreu will miss the tournament through injury.
Uruguay begin their Copa America title defence against Jamaica in tonight’s Group B encounter in Antofagasta. Can La Celeste and Edinson Cavani defend Uruguay’s Copa America crown without El Pistolero?