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The past
Mexico made their Men’s Olympic Football Tournament debut at Amsterdam 1928, exiting the competition without winning a single point. They fared much better when hosting the competition 40 years later at Mexico City, taking fourth place, their best performance to date, a success they followed up by reaching the last eight at Munich 1972. Present at four of the nine Olympic Games held since then, the Mexicans reached the quarter-finals at Atlanta 1996 and made their last appearance at Athens 2004, where they came within a point of reaching the group phase.

The present
Having surprisingly failed to progress beyond the first phase of qualifying for Beijing 2008, the men in green atoned for that setback in style at the recent CONCACAF U-23 Men’s Championship, held in the United States. Turning on the power in the group phase, they won all three of their games while letting in just the one goal. A place in London was secured with a 3-1 victory over Canada in the semi-finals. In the final that followed against Honduras they had to come from behind to force extra time, eventually running out 2-1 winners and clinching their sixth regional championship win.

The future
El Tri’s aim in London will be to build on their triumph at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011 and the third place achieved at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011 and show the world the strength-in-depth of their youth game. “Football’s never easy, but everyone should be know that we’ll play the right way, we’ll pass the ball around and we’ll show plenty of intensity,” said coach Luis Fernando Tena. “We’ve got some good players and that’s the important thing.”

Facts and figures
Former stars
Hector Pulido (1968), Leonardo Cuellar (1972), Hugo Sanchez (1976), Oswaldo Sanchez (1996), Luis Garcia (1996), Omar Bravo (2004), Guillermo Ochoa (2004)

Key players
Diego Reyes (defender), Hector Herrera and Marco Fabian (midfielders), Alan Pulido and Giovani dos Santos (forwards)

Qualifying statistics
Mexico did not put a foot wrong on the road to London 2012, winning all five of their matches at the CONCACAF Championship, scoring 26 goals in the process and conceding only three. Alan Pulido and Marco Fabian were their top scorers with five goals apiece.

The numbers game
31 - The number of matches Mexico have played in the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament over the years, putting them eighth on the all-time list along with USA and France. In terms of appearances in the competition, the Mexicans lie seventh overall with nine.