Every time Mexico are involved in a penalty shoot-out, the entire country covers its eyes in dread. El Tri's defeat against Argentina on 26 June was the latest episode in a long-running, and decidedly painful, drama.

In fact, when the stakes have been high Mexico have never managed to win a game on penalties. From FIFA World Cups™ to FIFA World Youth Championships by way of the FIFA Confederations Cup and Copa America, the final verdict always seems to go against them.

The first such defeat, and perhaps still the most painful, was at the FIFA World Cup the Mexicans hosted in 1986. Having made it to the quarter-finals, El Tricolor lost the spot-kick lottery 4-1 to eventual finalists West Germany. Eight years later lightning struck again, this time at the finals of USA 1994. Miguel Mejia Baron's side came up against Bulgaria in the round of 16, only to lose out 3-1 on penalties after 120 minutes had failed to settle the tie.

Golden goal more favourable to El Tri
There has been other heartbreak. At the FIFA World Youth Championship Australia 1993, Mexico lost a shoot-out to England 5-4. That game brings back particularly painful memories for Mexico's current goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez who, just as last Sunday, was unable to prevent the elimination of his side.

Mexico also suffered a similarly cruel reverse at the Copa America Uruguay 1995 when their victors were, even more gallingly, arch-rivals USA (4-1 it went against them). Then there was their elimination from the qualifiers for the Sydney Olympics at the hands of the Honduras (4-5), and another at the FIFA Confederations Cup Saudi Arabia 1995 against Denmark (2-4).

Curiously, Mexico enjoyed remarkably good fortune when the now-defunct Golden Goal was in use, winning five of their six games that were decided in this way. In a final irony that will not have been lost on the ill-fated Mexicans, if the measure had still been in use during their game on Sunday, then Carlos Salcido's opening goal in extra-time would have meant they, and not Argentina, would have been contesting the grand final against Brazil on Wednesday.