When Mexico’s first corner-kick of the day disappeared into a crowded penalty area in rain-soaked Pachuca and ended up in the back of the net, it was no surprise that wispy striker Carlos Fierro emerged from the heap of players with his fist held high. The adoring fans in Pachuca, soaked through and freezing amid a teeming downpour, proceeded to chant the name ‘Charley,’ as the Chivas No9 is affectionately known.
“I model my game on Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez,” Mexico’s top scorer at the FIFA U-17 World Cup told FIFA.com after his goal in the second minute sent Mexico on their way to a 2-0 win over Panama and a place in the quarter-finals. “He [Chicharito] doesn’t just score goals and create chances,” added Fierro, 16, his voice still high, lending him an air of youthful wonder. “But he’s a warrior and very tough. This is the kind of player I want to be.”
The similarities between Mexico senior team and Manchester United idol Chicharito and young Fierro are many and significant. Both have come through the youth system at famed Guadalajara side Chivas, both terrorise defences with opportunistic finishing, determined hustle, a ferocious turn of pace and killer eye in front of goal. Fierro has scored three goals so far and played every minute of his side’s four games on home soil, speaking well to coach Raul Gutierrez’s appreciation of the young ace’s predatory gifts.
Chicharito recently finished top scorer as Mexico raised their sixth CONCACAF Gold Cup up across the northern border in the USA. It is an accomplishment Fierro is hoping to match at the U-17 finals, but the clever youngster knows it takes more than desire. “Of course we want to be [in the final] at the Estadio Azteca on 10 July and to be crowned champions,” he said, freshly showered after the bruising battle with Panama, a team he claims “always makes things difficult,” before tempering expectations. “But we need to focus on each task and each game as it comes. This is how it’s done – we can’t look too far ahead.”
The next task for Fierro and co is a meeting with France. The Europeans will know how to tie up a striker, too, as they managed to edge Souleymane Coulibaly and his Ivorians in their round of 16 game, holding the superstar forward and tournament top marksman to only one goal in a 3-2, come-from-behind result. “We played France already in Veracruz in a recent friendly and they were very good,” admitted Fierro, who has the chance to impersonate his idol once again as Chicharito scored the winner in a breakout performance against France at last year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa. “But I think this will be an even better French side, full of confidence.
He [Chicharito] doesn’t just score goals and create chances. But he’s a warrior and very tough. This is the kind of player I want to be.
“We just need to keep the ball on the ground, play fast and patient and I think we can beat them,” the player continued, looking at the wet ground in his all-green tracksuit and swarmed by throngs of local media, all eager to hail Fierro as successor to one Chicharito.
Before he heads through the cold, Pachuca rain toward the waiting team coach, he muses on just what it will take to move that one step forward toward a date with destiny at the Azteca. “Teamwork is the most important thing in this team,” he said, showing the kind of humility that also defines his Manchester-based countryman and idol. “This is what makes a team great, not just one player.”