RECIFE, 22 JUNE: Huge popular protests across Brazil may have moved the Confederations Cup focus away from the pitch, but Tahiti will bow out Sunday after facing Uruguay to end what was a romantic adventure even if they slid to a record 10-0 loss to Spain along the way.
Despite that hiding, Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta says it has been worth making the trip.
"We have been pleasantly surprised with our experiences in Brazil as, despite our losses, the people have been right behind us. We have won their hearts," said Etaeta, whose team suffered a record loss in FIFA tournament history against the rampant Spanish world champions.
Their first outing had brought a 6-1 loss to Nigeria and now the Uruguayans, having beaten the African side, will look for an easy win as they attempt to deny Nigeria second spot in Group B and with it a place in the semi-finals.
One of the lasting images of an event marred by the protests across Brazil was of goalkeeper Mikael Roche kissing the Maracana stadium turf after the Spain game where 71,000 fans gave Tahiti a generous and moving ovation.
"I would like to thank them, they were great. It really touched us. They don’t know us yet they applaud us like that," said Etaeta.
The Uruguayans, struggling to impress in the Latin American zonal qualifying tournament for next year’s World Cup finals which Brazil will also host, hope that their win over Nigeria will provide a springboard.
"We are on track for a place in the last four," said coach Oscar Tabarez, who believes veteran striker Diego Forlan can pull more goals out of the hat after his winner against Nigeria. afp