Mexico

The past
After missing out on the inaugural edition of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, held in New Zealand in 2008, Mexico made their tournament debut at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, having claimed the runners-up spot in CONCACAF qualifying. Despite being eliminated at the group stage, they did manage to bow out on a high note, beating South Africa 4-0 to record their first victory at the event.

The present
El Tri secured their slot at Azerbaijan 2012 by finishing third in the CONCACAF qualifying competition behind USA, losing finalists at New Zealand 2008, and Canada, set to make their third consecutive appearance at this level. Guided by Leonardo Cuellar, who also coaches the senior national side, the Mexicans performed solidly, seeing off Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 and beating the Bahamas 6-0 in the group phase, before also defeating Panama 6-0 in the match for third place. Forward Luz Duarte was on particularly fine form during that decisive encounter, scoring no fewer than four times.

The future
Led by a talented group of players that are currently excelling at clubs in USA, such as skilful winger Taylor Alvarado and midfielder Hallie Hernandez, Mexico are hopeful of improving on their showing at Trinidad and Tobago 2010. Indeed their aspirations extend to going beyond the quarter-finals, which would represent the best-ever performance by a Mexican team at a FIFA Women’s World Cup in any age category. The freescoring Duarte has been open about her side’s ambitions, stating, “We’re going to give the U-17 World Cup our best shot.”

Facts and figures
Former stars
Daniela Solis, Fernanda Pina, Tanya Samarzich, Diana Gonzalez.

Key players
Luz Duarte, Jenny Chiu (forwards), Taylor Alvarado and Hallie Hernandez (midfielders).

The numbers game
5 –
The number of goals racked up by top scorer Luz Duarte during Mexico’s qualifying campaign for Azerbaijan 2012.