Diego Lugano has urged Uruguay to treat their remaining World Cup qualifiers like five finals, beginning with Tuesday's clash against Venezuala.
With just five matches remaining, Uruguay sit seventh in the Conmebol qualification table and, with only the top four guaranteed of a place in Brazil next summer, Oscar Tabarez's side face an uphill battle to keep their hopes of qualifying alive.
“We need to realise that the golden run we had is now over and that if we’re going to qualify for the World Cup, we need to start from scratch,” Uruguay captain Lugano told reporters.
“A new qualifying competition starts in Venezuela and ahead lie five finals. We have to take something from each of those games, especially against our direct rivals.”
Uruguay sit three points behind Venezuela, who currently hold the play-off spot in fifth, and Tabarez has urged his side to focus on securing three points on Tuesday.
“We are in a situation in which we urgently need to get closer, and that means to win this match. It is a final, but it is feasible,” he told reporters.
“We have five matches left against teams that are ahead of us, and we’re going to deal with them one at a time. If we win this first one, we will have to do the same thing with the second. This is not the first time we have faced a complicated moment. But this is a match that depends on us, that’s all.”
Uruguay legend Alcides Ghiggia added that the up-coming Confederations Cup could prove an invaluable tool for Tabarez, as he looks to find a winning formula from within his squad.
“Uruguayan football at the moment is at a rather low level and qualification for the World Cup in Brazil is not a given because of the number of points we lost at the start of qualification,” he told AFP.
“The Confederations Cup could be useful for the coach to call up new players, try things, because everyone knows how Uruguay play at the moment and it’s got to change.”