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WORLD CUP: Uruguay striker Suarez seeking redemption

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Uruguay’s priority will be keeping Luiz Suarez tamed at this year’s World Cup.

After the striker was expelled from the 2014 tournament in disgrace for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, Uruguay was eliminated by Colombia in the round of 16.

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Suarez promises he is a reformed character and will be better behaved in Russia than in Brazil, where he scored twice before being banned.

“It was my mistake,” Suarez said. “So I have a debt to repay to myself and Uruguay, to try to show a good image.”

Things were already starting to look brighter for two-time World Cup champion Uruguay, based on qualifying at least.

After enduring four consecutive World Cup playoffs and only reaching three of the tournaments, Uruguay secured an automatic place in Russia by finishing second behind Brazil in qualifying.

Here’s a closer look at the Uruguay team:

COACH

Oscar Tabarez will lead Uruguay into his fourth World Cup after a first trip in 1990 followed by 2010 and 2014. A Tabarez team has always made it out of the group stage, including a semifinal appearance in South Africa eight years ago.

A former school teacher and professional player, Tabarez led Uruguay to the Copa America title in 2011. As a club coach, he led Penarol to the Copa Libertadores title in 1987 and Boca Juniors to an Argentine league title in 1992.

The 71-year-old Tabarez has used a wheelchair since he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2016.

GOALKEEPERS

There is little doubt Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera will be between the posts for his third World Cup.

DEFENSE

The Atletico Madrid partnership of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez also anchor the heart of Uruguay’s defense. Godin has made more than 100 appearances since his debut in 2005 and scored at his third World Cup with a header against Italy in 2014. The 23-year-old Gimenez offers a solid companion to a player nine years his senior and already has one World Cup under his belt.

Versatile Lazio wingback Martin Caceres should also be sure of a starting spot unless there is a recurrence of one of his frequent injuries.

MIDFIELDERS

Tabarez has always had doubts about his midfield’s attacking qualities. While the unit has usually been capable of defending well, the midfielders have often struggled to generate chances for the forwards.

During qualifying, Tabarez called up several young players who improved in this area: Federico Valverde (19), Nahitan Nandez (22) and Rodrigo Bentancur (20).

FORWARDS

Uruguay shouldn’t be short of goals. The strikers are the team’s greatest strength.

Suarez is Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer with 50 goals and is coming off the back of a strong season with Barcelona. Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani is next on the list with 41, including a continent-leading 10 goals in 18 matches in South American qualifying.

GROUP GAMES

Uruguay, which will be based in Nizhny Novgorod, will face Egypt in its first match on June 15. That will be followed by matches against Saudi Arabia on June 20 and Russia on June 25.

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Uruguay could demolish Centenario stadium for 2030 World Cup

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) Uruguay may demolish the historic Centenario stadium as part of its bid to host the 2030 World Cup.

The country’s sports secretary Fernando Caceres told The Associated Press that six projects were being considered for a new stadium.

[ MORE: CONMEBOL chief asks FIFA to expand World Cup to 48 teams in 2022 ]

The Centenario was built in 1930 to host the first World Cup.

In all six projects the existing 100-meter tower would be maintained, as a tribute to Uruguayan teams that won the gold medals at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics.

Caceres said the Centenario “cannot resist any longer because its maintenance is very costly and is not adapted to modern sporting entertainment.”

He did, however, say that demolishing the stadium would shock Uruguayans because of its symbolic value.

Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay agree on 2030 World Cup bid

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay have agreed on 12 cities where they want to host the centenary World Cup in 2030.

The Argentine Football Association said on Monday the plan would grant eight cities to Argentina and two each for Paraguay and Uruguay. The names of the cities were not disclosed.

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Bidding is not due to open for another four years but leaders of all three national bodies say they want to make a joint bid.

The South American nations are expected to face tough competition for the hosting rights of a tournament that will likely feature 48 teams.

Uruguay staged the first World Cup in 1930 and has long been expected to seek hosting rights with Argentina. Paraguay later joined the initiative.

Argentine soccer officials said they met with national captain Lionel Messi during a recent trip to Spain.

“At all times we found (Messi) willing to help us spread the word about the possibility that the three countries organize the World Cup,” Argentina’s Sport Secretary Carlos Mac Allister said. “It’s very important for us to feel that we have the support of players and that it is completely unattached from any political connotation.”

Messi and Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez have already publicly backed the plan. During a recent Argentina-Spain friendly, Messi was expected to wear a bracelet that read “2030 together,” but he was sidelined due to an injury. The bracelet was worn instead by Javier Mascherano.

So far, the co-organizers have not said how much the tournament would cost if they were to win the bid.

“Today, we can’t say what the final costs will be to each of our countries, but it cannot be measured only in the building of infrastructure,” Uruguay Sports Secretary Fernando Caceres said.

“There’s an intangible measure, which is how much a country earns in coexistence, in integration, identity, and the construction of citizenship by hosting an event of this magnitude.”

World Cup 2030: Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay confirm joint bid

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The next two World Cups have their destinations in place, but the voting process for 2026 and 2030 are in full effect.

While the United States prepares for its fate along with its United bid partners, Mexico and Canada, for the 2026 edition of the tournament, Argentina has thrown its name into the ring for the 2030 Centennial World Cup.

On Monday, Argentina, along with South American nations Paraguay and Uruguay, announced their intentions to co-host the 2030 World Cup.

All three countries have agreed to a structure for their hosting bid, with Argentina being granted eight host cities, while Paraguay and Uruguay will each be given two apiece.

Although the United bid and Morocco will battle for the rights to 2026 this June when the voting process begins, bidding for 2030 won’t commence for another four years.

The tournament is expected to expand to 48 teams by the time 2026 comes around, thus allowing more joint bids to take place.

Uruguay hosted the first edition of the World Cup back in 1930, which the CONMEBOL nation won. It was the country’s first of two World Cup victories, while Argentina has also won twice.

Int’l roundup: Depay, Van Dijk lead Holland past Portugal and more

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Only two matches on Monday involved countries heading to Russia this summer, but each fixture featured exciting action.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal received a 3-0 hammering from Holland at the Stade de Genève, behind goals from Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel and Virgil Van Dijk.

[ MORE: MetLife Stadium would host 2026 World Cup if United bid wins ]

The Portuguese fell behind after 11 minutes, when Depay led a brilliant attack for the Dutch. The lead soon doubled just beyond the half-hour mark as Babel’s sliding effort found its way past goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk capped off the scoring on the stroke of halftime with a strong strike inside the Portuguese area following a free kick for the Dutch.

The fate of the hosts was sealed in the 61st minute, when defender João Cancelo received his second yellow card in less than 20 minutes, and was sent off.

Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani’s second-half strike helped Uruguay top Wales with a 1-0 victory on the road.

The South American side was outmatched for much of the fixture, with Gareth Bale and Wales looking the more dominant side, but the PSG star found the back of the net four minutes into the second stanza after Cristian Rodríguez picked out the veteran striker — who was positioned close to goal.