Ivan Ochoa was Mexico’s star man as they won through to the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup United Arab Emirates 2013. Ochoa struck twice in the opening 20 minutes of Tuesday’s semi-final against Argentina to set the mighty Mexicans on the way to their second consecutive appearance in the showpiece match and their third overall.
No sooner had the game finished than the bubbly striker was looking forward to Friday’s final against Nigeria, the side who beat them 6-1 in their opening game. “We’ve got some unfinished business with them,” he told FIFA.com just minutes after the final whistle had sounded on his team’s 3-0 defeat of the Argentinians.
Unity is what makes us strong and we’re sticking together and moving forward as one.
“I’m delighted we’ve won through to the final. This is an amazing experience for me,” he added. “It was the perfect game. Everything went so well for me, even though we didn’t make the best of starts and gave away a penalty. Goals are the result of teamwork and though it was me who put the chances away, they were both down to how we work as a unit.”
Ochoa’s two goals were virtual carbon copies of each other, with the striker gleefully prodding the ball home after respective set-pieces were headed into his path inside the penalty box.
“It’s a set play of ours, and like I said before, it’s all about teamwork: there’s the dead-ball strike and then there’s the knock-on,” explained Mexico’s goal hero. “Obviously I’m always sniffing around looking to get on the end of something, and if I’m in the right place, then so much the better. There are quite a few moves we work on and the coach wants to see us convert them into goals.”
The Pachuca teenager has played all six of Mexico’s games at UAE 2013, and acknowledged just how demanding Tuesday’s tie with La Albiceleste was: “It was very tough right from the start and we managed to recover from conceding the penalty, thanks to Raul Gudino’s superb save. I think we played really well after that, and we were the better side, especially in the first half.”
Hungry for more
There was not a hint of fatigue on Ochoa’s face as he contemplated how far he and his side have come: “You dream of playing and progressing but it never enters your head that you might score the two goals that seal a place in a World Cup final. It’s a dream come true and now it’s time to think about that final.”
The fact that the Nigerians are waiting for them on Friday, only motivates Ochoa even more: “We’ve got a score to settle with them and we want to face them in the final and beat them. We’ll be looking for revenge for what happened. That’s one of the great things about football – it gives you the chance to get revenge. We’ll be battling to the very end.”
Top scorers in the competition with 23 goals, Nigeria are kind of side most teams would want to avoid. Yet Ochoa believes Mexico have come on leaps and bounds since their humbling defeat to the Africans in their first group match.
“A lot of things went wrong for us in that game,” he explained. “There were lots of little details too. We’ve been putting them right little by little, developing into the team that we’ve become. We’ve found our style and our way of playing. Unity is what makes us strong and we’re sticking together and moving forward as one.”
Turning his thoughts back to the final, the hero of the hour in Abu Dhabi said: “Our goal is to be the champions. That’s what we’ll be going there for. On a personal level I want to score in the final, which would be just amazing. Even so, the important thing is to help the team because it doesn’t matter who scores in a game as big as that.”