Reaching the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ was a landmark moment for Mexican women’s football, as Las Tricolores qualified directly for the final tournament for the very first time. What is more, they did so in fine style, defeating archrivals and global superpowers the United States in front of a passionate crowd in Cancun in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF qualifying event. Determined to build on that success, Las Aztecas now have their sights set firmly on making it to the knockout stages on German soil.
The road to Germany
As host nation of the CONCACAF event, Leonardo Cuellar’s charges enjoyed the vocal support of thousands of fans right from the off, repaying their supporters’ faith with 7-2 and 2-0 group wins over Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago respectively. However, an emphatic 3-0 defeat by Canada condemned El Tri to a last-four clash with northern neighbours the United States, with a ticket to Germany 2011 awaiting the winners.
With the USA sitting at the top of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Rankings and Mexico down in 22nd place, Las Tricolores were massive underdogs, yet they showed tremendous resolve to upset the odds and secure a historic 2-1 victory. This was a truly remarkable feat, particularly taking into account a previous record of 23 defeats and one draw from 24 matches against the Stars and Stripes, during which El Tri scored only nine goals and conceded 106. Visibly exhausted after their semi-final exertions and with their passage to Germany already in the bag, even a 1-0 defeat to Canada in the final failed to wipe the smiles from the faces of Cuellar’s players.
The star players
For several years now, Maribel Dominguez has been a leading light on the Mexican women’s football scene. Even now, at the age of 33, the iconic front-runner’s hunger for goals remains firmly intact, as underlined by her six-goal qualifying haul. Aided and abetted by players of the calibre of Veronica Perez, Guadalupe Worbis and Rosario Saucedo, can the No9 make a similar splash at Germany 2011?
A former Mexican international, who appeared for El Tri at the 1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina™, Leonardo Cuellar has been synonymous with women’s football in his homeland since taking the Mexico helm in 1998. It has been under his watch that the country’s youth teams have become regular participants at FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups, while the senior side’s involvement at Germany 2011 will end a barren spell lasting 12 years.
Previous FIFA Women’s World Cups
2 – The total number of goals Mexico have scored against the United States in qualifying tournaments for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Both strikes came in the semi-final of the most recent edition, held between 28 October and 8 November 2010 in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
What they said
"Things are improving. It’s all part of the process that women’s football goes through. Finishing in second place (in CONCACAF qualifying) is an important step forward. The support we got from the fans was incredible and didn’t take me by surprise. (Women’s) football is making an impact, which puts pressure on our team to achieve good things. We’re going to work really hard to ensure that at this World Cup we can send out the best national team we’ve ever had," Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar.
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