The Uruguay coach, Oscar Tabárez, believes the World Cup is showcasing South American talent and agrees with the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, that Latin American countries have a more pronounced football identity than others around the world.

"We are a small country with a big football history and a real footballing culture," Tabárez said, on the eve of quarter-final against Ghana. "Our history is very important to us but we do not look back all the time. We have been world champions but we have also failed in the group stage or gone out in the round of 16. It's been a while since we have had victories in a major tournament and we know what impact our results have had back home.

• Follow the Guardian's World Cup team on Twitter• Sign up to play our daily Fantasy Football game• Stats centre: Get the lowdown on every player• The latest team-by-team news, features and more In Uruguay, everybody celebrates a win, whether they are interested in football or not. That's what I mean by a footballing culture. Everyone, young or old, knows what is happening."

Uruguay are one of four South American countries in the last eight. "Qualification is getting tougher and tougher all the time in the South American group," Tabárez said, by way of explanation. "There are some good teams involved and to come out on top you have to be good, and I think that is what we are seeing in South Africa."

Ghana are appearing in their first quarter-final. "They are robust and well-organised, we know that," he said. "Judging from what we have seen so far they are fast and strong, and especially quick at breaking out with the ball.

"We intend to give them every respect. They are bound to be highly motivated because they are making history. It is difficult to make comparisons between one African team and another but Ghana have shown with their under-20s that they are perhaps closer than most to elite level.

"We have good players of our own though and we have shown we can score goals. If we want to get to the semi-final we will need to score goals. We do not want a repeat of the last game, when we only played like ourselves for the last 12 minutes. Conceding a goal to South Korea surprised us a little and changed the course of that game. We will not be making that mistake again."

The game will be refereed by a Portuguese, Olegário Benquerenca. Tabárez was quick to dismiss suggestions that the official could turn out to be a closet Brazil supporter with anti-Uruguayan tendencies. "We have to stop being childish about these matters and start being a little more sporting," he said. "The best referees in the world are at the World Cup and we don't have a problem with any of them. We shouldn't be opening umbrellas all the time, turning every slight coincidence into something more dramatic. World Cups are there to be enjoyed by all who take part and that's exactly what my squad is doing.

"The players are working hard, but if you saw them you would never believe they have such a big game around the corner. We are not under pressure from history. We are under a certain amount of pressure because we want to do well, but not too much, because that would be negative."