By Yoo Jee-ho
AL RAYYAN, Qatar, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- Uruguay head coach Diego Alonso said Wednesday he will keep his focus on his own team's strengths rather than the opposition's weaknesses in their first Group H match against South Korea.
The two countries will square off to begin their 2022 FIFA World Cup at 4 p.m. Thursday at Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, just west of Doha.
Uruguay, ranked 14th, will be the favorites against the 28th-ranked South Korea. And with the South Korean captain Son Heung-min having to play with a protective mask after suffering facial fractures earlier this month, the Taegeuk Warriors will have a compromised team Thursday.
At the official prematch press conference Wednesday, Alonso said he won't necessarily seek to exploit Son's physical issues on the field.
"Obviously, we have utmost respect for Son but they have other players who are very well coached, with an exceptional starting XI," Alonso said. "We respect all of them. The only advantage we have here is our football. We'll try to be better than them, but not to take advantage of any other difficulty of the other team."
When asked if Saudi Arabia's upset win over Argentina from Tuesday had made him more cautious in preparing against South Korea, Alonso sang praises about his players' commitment.
"Uruguayan players are the best players in the world. I am not talking out of arrogance, but out of feelings," the coach said. "They players have prepared themselves very conscientiously. The squad is feeling great. They're full of enthusiasm. We're learning how to enjoy every single minute that we get to share with each other."
Asked what would constitute success for his side in Qatar, Alonso said, "A good tournament is to win the first game. What comes after that is not something we're thinking of."
"We know what we can achieve, but the most important thing right now is to focus on the game tomorrow," the coach added. "That's the important game. We can't think of the next games. Otherwise, we will make mistakes and regret it."