Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has put a supportive arm around Luis Suarez and told the striker that even Pele, Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi have had bad days.
The Barcelona forward cut a frustrated figure in the 1-0 opening World Cup win over Egypt and appeared well short of the standard which has seen him register 51 goals to become his country’s all-time leading scorer.
However, Tabarez is well aware of the 31-year-old’s enduring quality, and as Suarez prepares to win his 100th cap on Wednesday the coach has told him to stay calm as he looks to open his account against Saudi Arabia in Group A.
Tabarez mentioned the three superstars in relation to Suarez when he gave an interview to South American journalists at the weekend.
“I thought of mentioning those great footballers to underline that thought,” Tabarez said when asked about that analysis at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“Football is something that concerns people and these are not robots who can be programmed to deliver in a certain way.
“We have to be understanding and supportive in times like this; the footballer is the first person to be unhappy with his performance.
“We have to offer them the tools so on bad days they can overcome that.
“When we give them advice the most important thing is to be serene, cool and calm.
“We all agree perhaps he didn’t have the best of matches against Egypt but he has so much potential.
“In this World Cup we have great strikers with important records. Some of them have scored goals in the opening match.
“All strikers have positive and negative streaks.”
Suarez will become the sixth player to win 100 caps for Uruguay, having made his debut in a friendly against Colombia in February 2007.
“Time flies. That is an important number for footballers in their national squad,” Tabarez added, in a press conference shown on fifa.com.
“Over those 100 matches Suarez, perhaps not in all but in most of them, has been a decisive player.
“Of the few things we have achieved he has always played a pivotal role. He has scored very significant goals and provided many assists.”
Saudi Arabia midfielder Taiseer al Jassam admits the underdogs have to restore their reputation after a 5-0 defeat to hosts Russia in the opening match of the tournament.
“We hope to improve our image by proving our presence in the tournament,” he said.
“All we care about is the happiness of the fans.”