Mexico has never before competed in a FIFA Futsal World Cup, struggling to emerge from the shadow of powerful regional rivals USA, Cuba, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Despite making it to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Futsal Championship on five occasions, the Mexicans have never done better than the third place finish they managed at the tournament’s debut edition back in 1996.
Yet it was their fifth semi-final at this year’s CONCACAF championship that saw Mexico book their ticket to Thailand 2012 with some noteworthy performances against strong teams. Their campaign began with a valuable draw against Costa Rica and successive wins over St. Kitts and Nevis and Cuba were enough to see them through to the semi-final and guarantee a place at the Futsal World Cup, taking the second slot in their group after Costa Rica pipped them to first place on goal difference.
Having cemented their position as one of CONCACAF’s top four sides, Ramon Raya will be hoping his charges can continue to build on the successes of recent years. Raya’s squad for Thailand is built around a core of players who excelled at the regional competition, foremost among them prolific goalscorer Miguel Angel Limon.
Following his side’s semi-final appearance earlier, the coach said: “We’ve only been together as a side for a couple of months but we’re delighted with what we‘ve achieved. We have to work out a plan of action, benefit from lessons learned and get some games under our belts. We’ll try to go to Thailand fully prepared.”
Qualification in numbers
Mexico had an impressive journey through the group stages of the CONCACAF Futsal Championship. A 4-4 draw against a Costa Rican outfit that went on to claim the title was followed by a narrow 5-4 victory over St. Kitts and Nevis. Next up was Cuba, four-time qualifiers for the finals of the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Undaunted, Mexico pulled off a shock 5-1 trouncing to seal an appearance at Thailand 2012 and progress to the semi-finals where they were beaten 3-0 by hosts Guatemala. The resulting third-place play-off was won 6-4 after extra time by Panama.
4 – The number of goals scored by Miguel Angel Limon in Guatemala, making him his team’s top scorer for the tournament. It is also the number of Mexican players who scored two goals in the course of the tournament: Francisco Cati, Adrian Gonzalez, Morgan Plata and Carlos Alberto Rodriguez.