FORTALEZA, Brazil -- In the wake of Uruguay's shock 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica in its FIFA World Cup opener, manager Oscar Tabarez was non-committal about whether Luis Suarez, an unused substitute on the day, would play in the tournament.
Uruguay was unable to build on a 1-0 halftime lead, and instead surrendered two goals three minutes apart early in the second half. With over half an hour still to play, it was a situation that demanded Suarez's insertion. Uruguay's attack had looked ineffective.
Adding to the sense of urgency was the fact that the Costa Rica match was one in which La Celeste were expected to pick up three points, and in a group that also includes England and Italy, the path to the second round doesn't figure to get easier.
Instead, Suarez was left to watch has Nicholas Loderio, Alvaro Gonzalez, and Abel Hernandez were brought into the match. The trio were not only unable to turn around the match, but Uruguay also conceded a third to Costa Rica substitute Marcos Urena.
Afterwards, Tabarez insisted through a translator that Suarez "is no longer hurt. [Otherwise] he wouldn't have been on the bench as a substitute. He has gone through the phases that we have foreseen in his recovery."
That begged the question of why he wasn't brought on. When pressed, Tabarez said Suarez was not deemed fit enough to see the field.
"There were uncertainties that were lingering as far his fitness was concerned," said Tabarez. "Therefore it was very improbable that he would be able to come on the pitch."
Suarez's absence has raised questions over whether he'll be able to play at all in the tournament. Suarez didn't stop to speak with reporters in the post-match mixed zone. Tabarez in the meantime is taking a wait-and-see approach.
"We still have four days before we face England, and we'll have to see," he said. "If we see that his condition has improved, that he is fit, then there is a possibility he might play."
Tabarez took responsibility for the defeat to Costa Rica but also said his players made mistakes.
"We made incomprehensible mistakes that the team has not made in years, but we did today," Tabarez said.
"There were errors and maybe not only on the pitch.About those I will take responsibility. But we can't stay down."
The Uruguay players even spoke about not overestimating their talents after watching Spain's 5-1 dismantling at the hands of the Netherlands a day earlier.
"No team can believe that these are things that can't happen to them," Tabarez said. "We even talked a lot about this with the team after what happened to Spain against the Netherlands."
Tabarez also credited the Ticos for taking over the game in the second half, and hailed goalkeeper Keylor Navas in particular.
"They were simply very good. In the second half they just took over -- and they took the tactical advantage,'' Tabarez said. "Football means that sometimes you have to lose. You can't lose heart, you just have to improve.
"We didn't just lose due to the execution of the rival goalkeeping, but [Navas] made great saves at key moments