If one man was responsible for setting Mexico on their way to the gold medal match, it was Marco Fabian. The 23-year-old headed home after 31 minutes of the Men's Olympic Football Tournament semi-final at Wembley, levelling the scores and hauling his side back into Tuesday’s clash with Japan. But there was more to Fabian's strike than that, as it was the very first goal conceded by the Asians at the 2012 tournament.
Speaking to FIFA.com immediately after the final whistle, the Guadalajara striker was almost overwhelmed by joy. “I sense real elation. My goal was the first they've let in at the tournament, and in a semi-final as well. I'm unbelievably proud," he beamed. The player was aware of the psychological implications of his header, because once their previously impenetrable rearguard had been pierced, the Japanese began to wobble.
The opposite applied to Fabian and his team-mates, as the Mexicans shifted up through the gears after the interval and ultimately ran up a comfortable 3-1 victory. The recipe for success was sparkling individual class up front, and an exceptionally solid defensive platform. “The important thing today was to maintain our concentration and keep our shape right to the end. That's what has taken us to the final," Fabian stated.
We'll have to improve again in the final if we're to hit our target. And our target is the gold medal!
Mexico hardly made the best of starts, but were practically cruising by the end, a performance on the night which reflected their displays at the Games so far. “We started small, but now it's big," the goalscorer declared, although he allowed himself a pause for thought before contemplating the next step: “But we'll have to improve again in the final if we're to hit our target. And our target is the gold medal!"
After an ultimately deserved and convincing success over Japan on Tuesday evening, El Tri have already surpassed their previous best Olympic showing, the unwelcome fourth place at the 1968 Games in Mexico City. That alone means there is no point in beating about the bush, as Fabian recognised: “Obviously we can win the tournament! We've proved that now."
The mood in the dressing room clearly reflects the reality of events on the pitch, with the Mexicans starting modestly, building up a head of steam and then confidently striding to the finish. The icing on the cake would be landing the big prize on Saturday. And the player’s eyes sparkled when FIFA.com mentioned the prospect of gold. “It would mean a massive dream coming true for me personally," he said before departing.