Mexico coach Javier Aguirre is determined to prove wrong those who predict his side are "dead and gone" even before kick-off in their FIFA World Cup™ last-16 encounter with Argentina.
El Tricolor are outsiders to progress to the quarter-finals against Diego Maradona's star-studded line-up, but Aguirre hopes he can spring a surprise to upset the odds at Soccer City tomorrow night. "Nobody is betting a bottom dollar on us, the analysts are saying we're dead and gone. We will see," said a defiant Aguirre.
"I think Mexico are nobody's favourites, they don't believe we have a possibility (to win) but we will see after the 90 minutes whether we can change history. Argentina won four years ago and there were no more encounters so we will have to keep our euphoria low and correct the statistics, and see what the betting is [after the match]."
Aguirre was referring to the sides' meeting at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, also in the last 16, which Argentina won 2-1 after extra-time thanks to a stunning volley from midfielder Maxi Rodriguez, now with Liverpool.
Mexico will be boosted by the return to fitness of Arsenal forward Carlos Vela after a hamstring injury kept him out of their final Group A match against Uruguay.
Argentina won four years ago and there were no more encounters so we will have to keep our euphoria low and correct the statistics.
Aguirre seemed unhappy with how the Mexican media are reporting the team's chances against Lionel Messi and Co, with the former Atletico Madrid coach adding: "I don't think what they have been writing in Mexico lately is justified. It may be logic that because we are playing Argentina everything is going to be wrong, but that is your interpretation.
"These guys are hungry, they are not afraid of success. They have no complexes - we will lose, we will win, but you can never criticise our team. They have courage and they are going to fight. It's going to be a match on a level playing field - 11 players on each side, the referee will tell us when to kick off and the rest will be decided on the pitch."
Asked how his team would try to contain the threat of Barcelona star Messi, Aguirre simply said: "He is the best player in the world. Let's see whether tomorrow we are able to control him."
Although his attitude to the match was clearly deadly serious, his mood did lighten when he was asked to talk about his Argentina counterpart Maradona. "We played as players against each other, he is a great friend and a great coach. We saw each other in Madrid quite a few times with his daughter [who is married to Atletico striker Sergio Aguero], he is a great coach. I will give him a big hug and congratulate him on what he has done at this World Cup so far and wish him luck."
Aguirre is aiming to make history tomorrow night. Mexico have never gone beyond the last 16 at any FIFA World Cup played away from Mexican soil, and have gone out of the last four tournaments at this stage.