Diego Forlan hails Kitchee goal hero Cheng; hopeful of Uruguay’s chances at 2018 World Cup

He scored five goals at the 2010 tournament in South Africa and hopes his country can beat hosts Russia and at least win their preliminary pool

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 7:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 10:14pm

The man who scored five goals at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa reserved praise for a youngster who has only scored once for his club this season, albeit a historic one at that.

Diego Forlan, who on Thursday took part in an event to promote this summer’s World Cup in Russia at Olympic City in Kowloon, said 20-year-old teammate Cheng Chin-lung has plenty of potential after keeping a clear head to score the stoppage-time winner in Kitchee’s 1-0 victory over Kashiwa Reysol on Wednedsay – the first goal by a Hong Kong player in the history of the AFC Champions League.

He also said he was confident that his country, Uruguay, can finish top of group A – which also includes hosts Russia – but it would be difficult for them to go all the way to the final.

“It’s a nice goal, a fantastic goal,” said the 38-year-old Forlan, who was voted best player of the 2010 World Cup and has scored more than 100 goals in his career with top clubs across Europe. “He is still young and can use the ball well. We are happy he plays in a good team like Kitchee and there is plenty of room for him to improve, to learn more experience and get the quality.”

With three points from three games, Kitchee still have a chance to qualify in the regional competition if they beat visitors Tianjin Quanjian in April, but Forlan remains cautious. “We should not think too much as our priority is try to win the next league game on the weekend,” he said. “Tianjin are very strong but you never know in soccer.”

Uruguay finished fourth in 2010 and Forlan said they need to play extra well to go further in Russia, where they also play Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“It is not just because Uruguay is my country but because they are really a strong team,” said Forlan. “We still have a quality side, the same coach is still with the team and some players who are from the 2010 squad are still there but with more experience.

“But still the players have to do their best on the pitch. If you do not perform, you cannot win anything at the end of the day. Every team has some good players and they all want to beat you.

“Russia will be another team to watch because they are the hosts which will give them a lot of advantages but I believe Uruguay are the strongest in the group. But whether they can go further depends who they are going to meet in the knockout stages.

“I wish to see Uruguay in the final but there are some very strong teams such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Germany. We know it’s going to be difficult. It’s a tough competition.”

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, who played with Forlan in the 2010 World Cup, still plays a key role in the national team while Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani is his national team partner up front.