While in charge of the national U-17 team between 2010 and 2013, Raul Gutierrez continued the golden era that began with Mexico’s victory at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2005. In leading El Tri to their second world title on home soil in 2011 – secured with victory over Uruguay in an overflowing Estadio Azteca – Gutierrez proved that the 2005 success was no fluke, but rather the product of great work done at youth level in his homeland. Two years later in the UAE, Gutierrez and his charges almost repeated the feat, only to lose 3-0 to a great Nigeria side in the final.
When Gutierrez left the U-17 set-up, the man brought in to replace him and oversee the transition was Mario Arteaga. As five-time CONCACAF champions, the new incumbent knew that as well as securing a World Cup berth at the U-17 Championship in Honduras, he was obliged to deliver another regional crown. His charges duly secured their place at Chile 2015 and in the regional final after victories over Panama (3-1), Saint Lucia (6-0) and Haiti (2-0), and draws with Canada (1-1) and Costa Rica (1-1) won them Group B. A sixth CONCACAF title then followed a few days later with a 3-0 defeat of Honduras in the decider.
As he continues his preparations for Chile 2015, Artega has to shoulder the lofty expectations of a nation that has celebrated two world titles and one runners-up spot in the category in the last decade. However, the coach insisted the past successes could be a spur for his side, saying: “There’s no pressure – the previous teams have already won their titles. They’ve simply proved to us that it can be done and we can win things. This current crop have enormous desire to succeed and are committed to achieving something big.”