When Hector Moreno talks about the Mexican national team, he speaks from experience. Despite being only 26 years of age, he has been through it all with his country since his two appearances at FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010™. The central defender’s continued selection has provided much-needed stability for El Tricolor, over what has otherwise been a turbulent four years for the team.
As Brazil 2014 draws ever closer, the Espanyol player is therefore perfectly qualified to analyse the state of the current team and to assess their chances at the biggest event in world football. FIFA.com caught up with the defender to hear all his thoughts at first-hand.
A bumpy roadThe journey to Brazil 2014 proved to be a somewhat turbulent one for Los Aztecas, who at various points seemed on the verge of missing out on the tournament. But those experiences have left the centre-half appreciating the opportunity to play in his second FIFA World Cup even more: “In all honesty, I’m very excited. Although we always believed in ourselves, we went through some difficult moments. Now we feel that the worst is behind us, and we’re so motivated to get out there and play a great tournament.”
The central defender even believes that those highs and lows could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Mexican team. “We’re arriving under a lot less pressure than on past occasions, when people expected great things from the team. The general feeling is that we don’t have anything to lose, and that’s how we’re approaching it. I think that we’ll pleasantly surprise a lot of people.”
Moreno has matured greatly over the last four years and, as the player himself acknowledges, now bears little resemblance to the 22-year-old who played at South Africa 2010. “It’s very different. Back then everything was new and unexpected. Now things have changed. I have much more international experience, but also the bad times help you to remain level-headed. I think I’m enjoying it more this time around, because I know how hard it was to get here.”
Emotional setbacksHowever, it is not just results that have not been going Mexico’s way. In recent weeks two members of the squad, Juan Carlos Medina and Luis Montes, have seen their World Cup dreams shattered due to injury.
The latter dramatically suffered a shocking fracture of tibia and fibula in a friendly match against Ecuador, an incident that coach Miguel Herrera said had left his team “devastated”. However, Moreno believes that the squad has channelled this emotion in the right way: “Obviously it was very hard to see a team-mate’s dreams cut short like that. However, this has become an extra source of motivation for us. We want to win for ourselves and for our fans, but also for our injured team-mates."
Strengthened by this capacity to confront adversity head on, *El Tri *are looking ahead to the start of the World Cup with optimism. “We can’t let ourselves be overcome by adversity,” said the defender, who has been capped 53 times by his country. "For example, we’re playing against the hosts, Brazil, who will have thousands of spectators supporting them. Are we going to let that overwhelm us? Not at all. We’ve beaten them before and we’re confident that we can do it again. You never know what football will throw up, and it’s up to us to deal with whatever comes our way."
With all this experience, Moreno will not allow himself to get carried away or to set unrealistic goals. “I don’t like to talk about reaching a specific round or making history. I’ll be satisfied if we give it our all and leave everything out on the field of play. If we do that, I believe everything will turn out fine although, as I’ve already said, in football you can’t take anything for granted."
Mexico’s defensive stalwart therefore has one last plea for his team’s fans: “I want to ask them to believe in us, to let them know that we’re as excited as they are. For us it’s a dream to be here, and we’re going to do everything possible to make the next month an unforgettable one for our fans.”