Cavani may leave Copa early

Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani (centre) and team-mates warming up before training in Santiago, where they face the hosts.
Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani (centre) and team-mates warming up before training in Santiago, where they face the hosts.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He could return to Uruguay after dad kills m-cyclist in road accident

SANTIAGO - Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani could miss this morning's (Singapore time) Copa America quarter-final with Chile after his father was involved in a fatal car crash back home, national coach Oscar Tabarez said on Tuesday.

Luis Cavani knocked down and killed a 19-year-old motorcyclist on Monday night, judicial sources in Uruguay said.

Luis, who was driving a truck owned by his son, was detained by police in the town of Salto, the officials said.

Although Tabarez said he and his squad have given the forward their full backing, the coach would not confirm Cavani's place in the side to face the hosts.

"We have spoken with him to give him all our support but other very personal things can derive from that state he is in," the Uruguayan said at a news conference at the National Stadium in Santiago. "He is affected by it, as anyone in a similar situation would be. We'll let time pass so he can adapt to the situation."

Cavani has not said whether he will remain with the squad or return home. "From our team's point of view, he is a player with bags of experience and... we will keep talking with him. I am confident he will put the pieces in their place so he can focus on the game," Tabarez said.

Uruguay qualified from Group B behind Argentina and Paraguay as one of the best third-placed teams. Chile, meanwhile, were the outstanding team of the opening round, topping Group A with 10 goals, more than twice the total of any other team, after two wins and a draw.

The hosts are aiming to lift the Copa America for the first time, having been runners-up on four occasions.

However, Chile have been practising defending set pieces ahead of their quarter-final against Uruguay - a match that pits the smallest squad in the tournament against some of its tallest players.

The Chilean players are, on average, 1.76 metres tall. As at last year's World Cup, they are the smallest side in the competition, and their centre-backs Gonzalo Jara and Gary Medel stand just 1.78m and 1.72m respectively.

By contrast, the Uruguayans average 1.80m and have a few big target men in their ranks.

At 1.96m, defender Sebastian Coates is one of the tallest players in the tournament while his fellow centre-back Diego Godin is 1.86m. Cavani is 1.84m tall.

"It's Uruguay's strongest point," Chilean midfielder Charles Aranguiz said. "They have big players who do very well from set pieces.

"It's no big secret that Uruguay can score a goal against you from a set piece. We'll have to concentrate and be very determined when it comes to marking."

Marcelo Diaz, who at 1.66m is the smallest man in the Chilean squad, said they would keep the ball on the ground and concentrate on their own quick-fire passing game.

"Our best chance of beating them is with the ball, playing our own football," he said. "We've been working on how to unlock a defence that's very tight and makes very few mistakes."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Cavani may leave Copa early'. Print Edition | Subscribe