Mexico will take their leave of the United Arab Emirates with a mixture of satisfaction and regret. The satisfaction comes from reaching the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup United Arab Emirates 2013; the regret from losing out 3-0 to an outstanding Nigeria side, who also put the Mexicans to the sword when the two sides met at the start of the group phase. Overall, however, the defending champions had plenty to be pleased with during their campaign.
One of their outstanding performers in the competition was goalkeeper Raul Gudino, who pulled off some vital saves as Mexico negotiated their way through the knockout rounds.
The first man to emerge from the dressing rooms after the final, the classy custodian shared his views with FIFA.com: “We’re sad and we’re hurting because we lost. We’ve learned some good lessons too. I feel we’ve found out more about ourselves as players and people. Going through all this has helped me mature more quickly and it’s been really useful for me.”
Nicknamed El Pulpo (The Octopus), Gudino then gave his opinion on the final: “Nigeria have some very talented individuals. They virtually played keep-ball, knocking it around among themselves, which made it very hard for us. We did our job but we didn’t come away with the result we were hoping for.”
Offering his final appraisal of El Tri’s sojourn in the UAE, Gudino said: “Overall we had a good tournament. Nigeria beat us 6-1 in the first match and there aren’t many teams who can bounce back from a score like that at the start of a World Cup.
“We kept on working and reached the final, and we’re proud at everything we’ve achieved. On a personal level, I need to keep doing what I’ve done up to now. Next up are the U-20s and I need to think about that.”
adidas Bronze Ball winner Ivan Ochoa spoke in similar terms to his goalkeeping team-mate: “We went out there with victory on our minds and we went for the win. We were determined not to ever let our heads drop and we made sure that didn’t happen.”
He added: “The way I see it, games always come down to the little details. As everyone knows, it’s goals that count in football. They scored them and we didn’t. That’s how you win and that’s where the difference lay.”
Reflecting on the opportunity he had to get Mexico back into the game with 15 minutes remaining, Ochoa said: “I was so close. I honestly thought it was in. We had the chance to cut the deficit but it wasn’t to be. There was still a bit of time left and we were only 2-0 down but the ball just didn’t want to go in.
“On a personal note, it’s good to win a trophy, but I only won it thanks to the team and the hard work everyone put in,” he added, discussing his award. “They give it to one player but it would be impossible to win it without the support of the whole side. I’m proud of them.”
Few players contributed as much to the Tri cause as forward Alejandro Diaz, who played in every game and scored two goals, one of them an exceptional effort against Italy in the Round of 16. “It hurts because we wanted to win,” he said in the aftermath of their defeat in the final. “We’re sad right now but we need to learn from what’s happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We’re going to carry on with what we’ve been doing.”
Acknowledging the strength of the new champions, the Club America striker said: “We knew Nigeria were a very powerful team. They’re fast and strong and I don’t think we knew how to stop them. We had a good tournament. We started badly against them but we pulled ourselves together and came this far. I can’t say we’re happy at how things turned out but I think we can be satisfied.”
“There’s not the same sense of satisfaction because we didn’t get the result we were looking for in the final,” added team-mate Pedro Teran. “The team tried hard and gave everything they had, but it just wasn’t to be. Goals win games. Both sides had chances but they were the ones who took theirs.”
Having the final word, Teran summed up what the competition meant to him and his colleagues: “It was a wonderful experience. You learn so many things and you come up against great opponents, all of which helps you develop as a player and a man.”