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Tuesday, 21 May, 2002, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Mendez: The right man?
Uruguay defender Gustavo Mendez
Mendez gets the nod over Tais for right-back

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Most teams have a problem position, a place on the field where the coach has reason to be unhappy with the resources at his disposal.

In Uruguay's case it is at right-back.

The have plenty of options in other positions, enabling coach Victor Pua to leave out players of the calibre of Giacomazzi and Perez in midfield, Chevanton, Alonso, Zelayeta and Pandiani up front.

But resources are scarce at right-back.

So it is surprising that only one specialist in the position has been named in the World Cup squad, and equally surprising that Gustavo Mendez is the lucky man.

Now at the veteran stage, Mendez has given good service both to Uruguay and to the Italian league. But he has seen better days.

Last year Victor Pua seemed to think so; Mendez was discarded after Uruguay lost to Venezuela.

An awful performance from Mendez was capped when he received the red card.

Washington Tais misses out for Uruguay
Tais: Unlucky to miss out

Finding himself surplus to requirements at Torino, Mendez moved back home in a late effort to force his way in to Uruguay's World Cup team.

Astonishingly, he seems to have succeeded, despite hardly figuring in Nacional's first XI.

Mendez has been on the bench for most of the campaign. It is hard not to feel sorry for Washington Tais, the man who missed out.

He was Uruguay's right-back on the run in towards qualification.

His performances were not entirely convincing, but at the time he was not getting a game with Betis in the Spanish league.

Competition in attack

By the end of the season he had won back his club place, but now finds himself cast aside by his country.

It is a decision that not all in Uruguay agree with.

Recently club side Penarol played a big game in the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League.

Defender Robert Lima scored - and celebrated by removing his Penarol top to reveal a Uruguay shirt with the number two and the name Tais printed on the back.

But in the World Cup that shirt will belong to Mendez.

An alternative is the versatile Gianni Guigou, who normally figures in midfield or at left-back.

Manchester United and Uruguay striker Diego Forlan
Forlan's Man Utd move pays dividends

Guigou has not played at right-back for his country, but he has done so for Roma, so he should be able to fill in without too many problems.

All the same, Pua may regret leaving himself short of options.

By the end of the campaign he may feel that he exagerrated by selecting four players for the same centre forward position.

Dario Silva and Sebastian Abreu are competing for a place in the starting line-up.

Then there is the gangling Richard Morales, the hero of the play-off against Australia.

Plus Diego Forlan, who did not feature in qualification but whose profile has been raised by the move to Manchester United.

Leaving out one of the quartet would not have been easy. But it would have freed an extra space for Pua to give himself more cover at right-back.

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