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Uruguay unveil World Cup secret - hundreds of kilos of caffeine-drink leaves

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By Ian Ransom

OITA, Japan (Reuters) – Apart from passion and hard training, Uruguay are fuelling their bid for World Cup credibility with plenty of caffeine as they bond over hot cups of ‘mate’, a traditional South American drink.

The national beverage of Uruguay and popular in Argentina and other parts of the region, mate is brewed in metal flasks from chopped-up yerba mate leaves.

The Uruguayan players have brought plenty with them to Japan, where the ingredients are hard to come by, and they shared a brew as they visited Oita Stadium on Friday on the eve of their third World Cup pool clash against Australia.

“It is really very important for us. It’s like a social tradition to share a mate every time,” Uruguay centre Agustin Della Corte told reporters at Oita Stadium.

“In our travels we have a lot of leisure time so we like all the time to be sharing a mate. Each one of us brings our own thermos and the mate, the yerba. With the team, we bring 200 kilos.”

The drink may be having a positive effect, with Uruguay upsetting Pacific power Fiji in their first pool match, the first major shock of the tournament.

Uruguay will bid to record their best result at a World Cup with victory over the Wallabies or Wales in their last pool match on Oct. 13.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Tony Lawrence)

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