- Sunday’s late draw with Portugal broke an unhappy trend
- “It feels good. We deserved it,” said their goal hero Hector Moreno
- Mexico face New Zealand in their next match on Wednesday
By Martin Langer, with Mexico
The 90 minutes are nearly up and Mexico are on the point of picking up a valuable draw against powerful European opposition. The fans are counting the seconds down when disaster strikes: El Tri concede, letting a dream result slip from their grasp. The TV commentator can barely believe it. “Why does this always have to happen to us?” he laments.
Those words were uttered back at the 1962 FIFA World Cup Chile™, when El Tri came within seconds of holding a Spain side featuring Francisco Gento, Ferenc Puskas and Luis Suarez to a draw, only for Joaquin Peiro to strike a shattering late winner for the Spanish. That story has been repeated several times since then – in 1998, 2006 and 2014 to name but three recent World Cups when Mexican fans have had their hopes dashed by a late, late goal. On Sunday, however, it was the Mexican players who came up with some injury-time heroics.
Just when the match seemed lost, Mexico summoned up the energy that has eluded them on so many other occasions, perhaps kickstarting a new era in the process.
Never say die
“We’d put in a good performance against the European champions,” Hector Moreno told us after the final whistle. “Even though we were trailing, we kept on fighting and didn’t let our heads drop.” It was Moreno’s brave injury-time header that reversed Mexico’s long and unhappy knack of conceding vital goals late on, and he was only too pleased to have done so.
His joy was not surprising. When Cedric made it 2-1 to the Portuguese with only five minutes remaining, it seemed the game was up for Mexico. The centre-half had other ideas, however: “It feels good. We deserved it. We usually stay strong and we know how to pick ourselves up quickly. I think it was the right result.”
Fortune favours the brave
Mexico showed that mental strength right throughout the game. It is a central part of their approach, one that saw them give as good as they got against Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. “That’s what we always try to do. That’s what drives us,” said Tri keeper Guillermo Ochoa. “The idea is to always go out there with the aim of winning, in every match, no matter who the opposition is.”
That is fighting talk, especially coming from a goalkeeper, one who kept Mexico in the game with some vital stops. Even so, he was ultimately disappointed they did not come away with more: “We could have collected all three points.”
Nonetheless, El Tri are ready for what lies ahead. And who better than their star man, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, to detail what their fans can expect from here on in. “This is a team that’s got a lot of mental strength and a lot of talent too. We’ve got a great squad and lots of quality. We’ll be doing all we can to keep this going.”
“Why does this always have to happen to us?” Only by backing up words with actions, just as they did against Portugal, can Mexico finally ensure that long-asked question is a thing of the past.