World Cup qualifiers: Heartbreak

World Cup qualifiers: Heartbreak
Uruguay's Luis Suarez celebrates after he scored his team's second goal against Argentina in their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match.

In keeping with their tradition of doing things the hard way, Uruguay - for the fourth consecutive campaign - must go through a play-off to join the World Cup extravaganza.

A 3-2 home victory over Argentina thursday morning (Singapore time) came too little, too late, for them to clinch an automatic spot.

The 1-0 loss to Ecuador in their previous game had virtually ended their hopes of finishing in the top four South American places due to an inferior goal difference.

Two games against Asian side Jordan next month will decide their fate.

But it's a ritual they should be familiar with by now and the experience will come in handy.

For the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, they edged past Australia and Costa Rica respectively to make it to the tournament proper.

The 2006 experience, though, when they lost out to the Socceroos, will serve as a cautionary tale.

But the gap in quality between Uruguay and Jordan is one which the Asians are neither equipped nor ready to bridge.

Oscar Tabarez should have few fears following their fine performance against the Albiceleste.

METTLE

Never mind that the visitors fielded a second-string side, as they had already confirmed top spot before the game.

Even without some of their biggest stars, Argentina had the strength in depth to test any team's mettle.

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