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Pua confirms he's shortly to quit as Uruguay coach

Updated: Saturday June 15, 2002 12:47 a.m. ET

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) -- Uruguay's soccer coach Victor Pua confirmed Friday he will quit in the near future, after his side exited the World Cup in the first round.

Uruguay narrowly missed out on a last 16 place, eventually finishing third in Group A after two draws and a loss.

Needing a win in its last game, the team came from 3-0 down to tie Senegal 3-3, but several missed chances at the end of the match meant Uruguay was eliminated.

After arriving at Uruguay's international airport, Pua gave an extensive news conference and confirmed reports he was set to quit.

"In the near future, I will already no longer be the national team coach, but I will still be Uruguayan and as much of a fan as you," he told the reporters.

"This was already said, I would have left the national team whatever the result (in the World Cup)," he added.

Pua, took over after former Argentina World Cup winner Daniel Passarella resigned in February 2001. He guided the two time world champion to its first finals in 12 years, after a playoff victory against Australia.

However, his reign as national coach was filled with rumors of rows with the players and reports of deep divisions within the squad.

Pua, who formerly coached Uruguay's youth teams, said he had found the constant reports of discord hard to accept.

"The sad things that remains with me from this period with the national team are this wave of rumors."

And he took a parting shot at his critics, saying they were looking for scapegoats for the side's failure to progress.

"If they need someone to blame, because here almost everyone came to look for someone to blame, here they have it, it's me. I still have not been condemned, but now they are going to free themselves from me," he said.

Yet the coach said Uruguay had nothing to be ashamed of from its tournament record.

"Uruguay played with dignity, it always tried to attack," he said. "We lacked a bit of efficiency, luck, precision to take advantage of the number of chances we had ... There are a whole lot of positive things."

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