Mexico were the first CONCACAF side to make sure of their place at Jordan 2016, which will be their fourth FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup appearance in all, their only absence to date having come at the inaugural competition in New Zealand in 2008. Eliminated in the group phase on their first two outings in the tournament, at Trinidad and Tobago 2010 and Azerbaijan 2012, El Mini Tri reached the last eight at Costa Rica 2014, where they were knocked out by eventual champions Japan.
Turning in a solid performance in the qualifying competition, Mexico were beaten only by USA, going down 1-0 to their northern neighbours in the group phase and losing again to them by the odd goal in three in the final. After beating Costa Rica and Jamaica in their pool, the Mexicans clinched a ticket to Jordan with a 3-0 win over Haiti 3-0 in the semi-finals. Expertly marshalled at the back by Kimberly Rodriguez, El Mini Tri will head to the world finals with a close-knit unit that also won bronze at the Girls’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament Nanjing 2014. Their opponents will have much to contend with, not least the midfield creativity of Jacqueline Ovalle and Dayana Cazares and the instinctive finishing of Daniela Garcia Espinosa.
If Christopher Cuellar’s charges are to impress against the world’s best and advance beyond the quarter-finals for the first time, they will need to show the same commitment and tactical discipline that has got them to Jordan. “I’m very pleased with the team, and I think they’ve got a bright future,” said Cuellar, who has being working with the side for two years now and steered them to that third place in Nanjing. Can the Mexicans now kick on and achieve another podium finish?