Mexico
© AFP

The past
Only three-time champions Brazil and Nigeria have lifted the FIFA U-17 World Cup trophy on more occasions than Mexico. Their debut triumph came via a 3-0 victory by ‘la generación dorada mexicana’ (Mexico’s Golden Generation) over A Verde e Amarelo in the final of Peru 2005, and the second came just six years later at the 2011 edition on home soil. Roared on by some 90,000 fans in the history-laden Estadio Azteca, El Tri sank another South American heavyweight, Uruguay, in the final to reclaim the coveted crown.

The present
The reigning world and CONCACAF champions underlined their credentials by winning all five of their games at the regional qualifying tournament for UAE 2013. Under the guidance of coach Raul El Potro Gutierrez, also behind their 2011 success, Mexico came through the group phase thanks to wins over Cuba and Honduras, 5-1 and 2-0 respectively. A FIFA U-17 World Cup berth secured through their 2-0 win against Guatemala in the last eight, El Tri kept their foot on the pedal, beating Honduras 2-0 once more in the semis and downing hosts Panama 2-1 in the final to clinch a sixth regional crown. Leading the team’s scoring charts was four-goal Marco Granados.

The future
“Now we qualified, we need to keep strengthening the side in footballing terms and play against quality teams, in order to prepare for the Emirates in the best possible away,” said coach Gutierrez, looking ahead to Mexico’s 11th appearance at this competition.