MONTEVIDEO - Uruguayans bade farewell to
their dreams of World Cup glory on Tuesday but the mood remained
festive on the streets of the capital as fans agreed that
"La Celeste" had done them proud.
Uruguay, who won the sport's ultimate prize in 1930 and
1950, succumbed 3-2 to the Netherlands in their first World Cup
semi-final in 40 years.
"I'm proud of the team. Sad because we were close, but happy
because we went out with our heads high," said Milton Quintana,
45, one of thousands of fans who gathered to watch the game on a
giant television screen in Montevideo.
"They fought to the last, never giving up, refusing to
surrender," said sports commentator Mario Bardanca.
Tuesday's typically gutsy performance is likely to reaffirm
Uruguayan pride in the so-called Garra Charrua, which literally
means the Charruan claw, a term used to refer to fighting to the
bitter end. The team are commonly nicknamed "Los Charruas" after
a long-lost indigenous people.
"They gave it their all. We should keep on celebrating the
claws that these players have," said Huber Morales, 32.
"They played how they should have done, giving everything
they could as they struggled to get a draw," said sports
journalist Ricardo Pineyrua.
"We're happy because we showed the
world we're fighters to the last, but there's sadness to because
perhaps we deserved to reach the final."
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, 75, who was unable to
travel to South Africa on health grounds, said the team had gone
out of the tournament with dignity.
"If we'd have had five minutes longer we would have won,"
the former leftist guerrilla said according to the news website
www.montevideo.com.uy. "We lost, but we kept our dignity."
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