Thirteen is anything but unlucky for Guillermo Ochoa. Born on the 13th of July and the wearer of the No13 jersey, the Mexico goalkeeper now has another reason to regard the number with affection. Today, on Friday 13 June, he finally made his FIFA World Cup™ debut.
“I’m delighted that it’s a case of third world finals lucky for me,” Ochoa told FIFA.com after Mexico had got off to a winning start in Group A, beating Cameroon 1-0. “I’m pleased I was able to help out my team-mates on the pitch and to have made my debut at last.”
Getting a start like this has calmed our nerves. The team’s only going to get stronger.
The man they call Memo made the trip to Germany 2006 as his country’s third-choice keeper. By the time South Africa 2010 came around he was in superb form and seemed set to start the competition, only for Javier Aguirre to hand the gloves to Oscar Perez. Not even that setback made him lose faith in the number 13, which he wore with pride in finally fulfilling his dream in Brazil.
The heavy rain that fell from first light in the usually sunny coastal city of Natal could not dampen his day, though it did make it a little more uncomfortable than he might have expected.
“Our opponents made it a tough game and the conditions made it even harder," he said. "When you get rain like that it makes life difficult for goalkeepers, but I’m happy with the result.”
Though barely tested during the regulation 90 minutes, Ochoa was there for Mexico when they needed him, expertly keeping out Benjamin Moukandjo’s injury-time header to ensure El Tri would pocket all three points. His save left the Mexican fans at the Estadio das Dunas chanting his name in gratitude.
“I was alert and luckily I was able to chip in with my save,” he commented. “The important thing is that we showed how brave we can be. The team looks pretty strong mentally.”
Ochoa slept soundly before the game, secure in the knowledge that he would be starting, and does not foresee losing any sleep in the days ahead, even with hosts Brazil providing the opposition in Mexico’s next match.
“We’re not nervous about it at all,” he said. “In fact, getting a start like this has calmed our nerves. The team’s only going to get stronger and we’re on the up and up. So we’ll be going into the game in a happy frame of mind and ready for the challenge.”
Mexico’s No1 is clearly feeling content as he awaits their next challenge, when he will be wearing yellow, a supposedly unlucky colour, but as he has already proved, Ochoa is anything but superstitious.