Going into the Copa America, we posed questions about the campaigns of the 10 South American sides. Now that the 43rd Copa America is history, we look back to find out if the tournament came up with the answers. (Listed from winners down to the teams eliminated in the group phase)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- One figure has dominated this Copa America. The shadow of Sergio Markarian, the balding, bespectacled Peru coach who had such an influence on the philosophy of the sides who finished first, second and third, lurked in the background, but the man of the tournament was the tall, grey-haired figure with the limp who calmly wandered around shaking hands and exchanging hugs at fulltime in the final, as his players cavorted in one great mass of celebration.
On Tuesday night, Oscar Washington Tabarez limped across the pitch in La Plata and paused, his knee injury apparently making him wary of progressing too far on the sodden, uneven surface. He looked at his celebrating players as though determined to soak in the spectacle and as they slowly broke off to trot in to the dressing-room, each made a point of going over to him. Tabarez's second coming as national coach has already been glorious, but on Sunday it might get even better.
SANTA FE, Argentina -- As Martin Caceres' penalty soared into the top corner and confirmed Uruguay's passage to a fifth successive Copa America semifinal, a sense of disbelief fell over the Estadio Estanislau Lopez.
Before they used to say "You were the champions? Sure, when football didn't even exist, but today they're looking at us in a different light," Edinson Cavani said in an interview in El Pais this month about the impact of Uruguay's World Cup campaign, which saw the country reach fourth place after decades of absence from center stage.
Before Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and company fired Uruguay into the semifinals of last year's World Cup, many people had forgotten (or never knew) that this little South American country with a population of under 3.5 million has an extraordinary soccer tradition.
In the days since Luis Suarez's decisive intervention in the last few moments of Uruguay's quarterfinal victory over Ghana at the World Cup, the cries of a nation (and a continent) pained by its failed destiny have given way to more considered sentiment. Or at least, amid Ghana sports minister Akua Sena Dansua's appeals to the African Union to campaign against African nations' unfair treatment at the World Cup (has Africa really been affected the worst by poor officiating?), she also made a rational call by asking FIFA to consider introducing "penalty goals."
If the World Cup were contested among continents instead of countries, the tournament would have had only two winners in its 80-year history: South America and Europe. And now that the Netherlands beat Uruguay, the only South American team left standing in the final four, Europe has emerged victorious.
Every team at this summer's World Cup has key players on which it depends. But some squads have players who influence the game so much that their team simply isn't the same without them. These are the "untouchables" -- the guys for whom coaches, fans and even teammates at times say little prayers in hopes they'll stay healthy. Here are some of those players whose teams need them to be at their very best.
Stepping back into the stadium after a big game, I often find strange and poignant moments. The radio report has been filed, the press conferences are over and, save a little bit of activity in the press box and from maintenance staff, the place is empty. The lights will soon be switched off and the stadium has the aspect of a tired giant preparing for sleep. The seething emotion it held inside itself just a short time ago has now dissipated.
A step away from reaching the 2010 World Cup, two-time champion Uruguay has the opportunity to return to the elite of world soccer. After beating Costa Rica 1-0 in San José in the first leg of their playoff last Saturday, la Celeste knows it's more than capable of getting the job done when the teams meet again in the return leg in Montevideo on Wednesday.
A former guerrilla fighter jailed for 14 years and an ex-president were headed for a runoff for the presidency of Uruguay, after neither was expected to capture more than 50 percent of the vote in Sunday's election.
Brazil and Paraguay already booked their tickets for the 2010 World Cup, but six other teams are still in the running. There are only two automatic tickets left for South America, and one playoff berth against the fourth-place team from CONCACAF.
I'm off to Argentina for Saturday's anticipated World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Brazil. It's a clash that resonates through the global game -- the two great South American rivals, producers of an extraordinary quantity of the greatest players ever, going at each other with regional pride at stake.
Uruguay has paid $42 million (973 million pesos) in compensation during the past three years to more than 3,000 former political prisoners and those who fled the country or hid from authorities, the state-run news agency said Monday.
Let's assume that Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil are going to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. It seems a fair assumption -- it could well be that from the seven remaining rounds, just two victories will be good enough to get Paraguay over the line, and three plus a draw may well prove sufficient for the continent's traditional two powers.
We're nearly halfway through the marathon campaign of South American qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, and the past week of action has been one of the more wild and unpredictable so far. Here are five things we've learned after seeing all 10 countries in action:
Now that the adrenaline rush of the transfer window has passed, attention turns to international soccer and the road to South Africa 2010. South America's marathon World Cup qualification campaign is well underway -- this coming weekend marks the seventh of the 18 rounds played -- and there's plenty at stake in all five of the matches on the calendar.
When I told friends that my husband and I were going to visit Uruguay, the first question was usually, "Why?" I had been to Uruguay before so the answer came easy: "The people, the food and the beaches."
Scientists have discovered the remains of a rodent the size of a small car which used to forage the South American continent. The 1-ton creature is believed to have been about 3 meters in length and 1.5 meters tall.
When Uruguay faces Brazil in Tuesday's Copa Am�rica semifinal, there's no doubt it will be the clear underdog. The Uruguayans struggled in the group phase, scoring only once in three matches, and it wasn't surprising that no one gave them a chance against undefeated Venezuela in the quarterfinals.
While eight teams march on to the quarterfinals of the Copa Am�rica, the other four go home to recriminations and postmortems. Not qualifying for the second round in a tournament that only eliminates one-third of the teams is clearly a failure.
Uruguay prides itself on a glorious past. Its national team won two World Cups (in 1930 and 1950) during a time when it contested for every major international trophy. But the situation has changed drastically. Since it last won the Copa Am�rica in 1995, Uruguay has nothing to be proud of.
With the U.S. real estate market in the doldrums, look south - way south - to Uruguay. Uru-where? The tiny South American nation is wedged between Brazil and Argentina, whose sputtering currencies have been attracting globe-trotting bargain hunters in recent years. But it's getting harder to find a real deal in those countries, with all the competition from euro-flush investors and increasingly prosperous locals. That makes largely overlooked but delightfully cosmopolitan Uruguay the place to be.