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Another Diego Alonso fiasco as Uruguay miss out on knockout phase

La Celeste were eliminated thanks to a stoppage time goal from South Korea.

Ghana v Uruguay: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

Despite their 2-0 victory over Ghana earlier today (first of the World Cup), Uruguay have been officially eliminated thanks to a South Korea stoppage time goal to claim victory over Portugal. Hwang Hee-chan’s score not only gave South Korea the win, but it also put them at 4 points (same as Uruguay) and gave them a 0 GD (same as Uruguay). The difference is the Asians scored 4 goals while the South Americans only scored 2. That tiebreaker handed South Korea 2nd place and left a disappointed Uruguay in 3rd.

That was Diego Alonso’s third consecutive head coaching job where he’s failed significantly. After his 1+ year stint with Rayados, he ended up with a respectable record of 39W, 13D, 20L in his 72 matches in charge, most notably winning the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League title over hated rival Tigres. But after 12 league matches in the Apertura 2019 and things not looking good for Rayados after having lost a clásico to Tigres at home 2-0, Alonso was let go in September 2019.

He was appointed MLS’s expansion team Inter Miami’s first ever head coach just three months later, and also led them to a less than subpar performance, finishing with a 7W, 3D, 14L record in just 24 matches in charge. It was also the year the COVID pandemic began. In January 2021, just a year and days after being put in charge, the club and Alonso mutually split ways.

It took him a full year, but in January 2022, he was named Uruguay’s head coach after the team had suffered 4 consecutive losses in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers under then head coach Óscar Washington Tabárez; 3-0 to Argentina, 4-1 to Brazil, 0-1 to Argentina, 3-0 to Bolivia. The worrysome part was the fact they were throttled in three of the four losses, especially that last one to Bolivia. Three days after that loss, Tabárez was let go.

Alonso immediately made an impact, winning his first 4 matches (last 4 of the qualifiers) and conceding just 1 goal in that span. They finished 3rd overall in the qualifiers and were able to secure their direct spot in the WC. But that was another story. Their scoreless draw with South Korea started the downfall, as that was a match they were supposed to win. Then, in a match against Portugal where Alonso was widely criticized for almost fielding a fearful team, Uruguay defended excessively and looked unwilling to attack, ultimately losing 2-0 and what many consider the WC altogether. And today against Ghana, they finally displayed that offensive talent between Suárez, Núñez, and de Arrascaeta, but it was too late thanks to their lack of control over their own destiny.

Ghana v Uruguay: Group H - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

Let’s be honest. Uruguay had to come out of this group. No group is easy, but in no way was Group H considered a mission impossible. They had a couple tough, but winnable matches and many considered them to be evenly matched with Portugal, even having a shot at winning the group.

People everywhere are now calling for Diego Alonso’s firing. Ignacio Alonso, president of the Uruguayan federation, said it’s his intention for Diego to continue in charge of the NT. Their relationship contractually ended with the World Cup, but they’ll sit down and see where both sides’ aspirations lay. Unfortunately for Alonso, another unsuccessful attempt (for now) in his head coaching career.