Sebastian Cordova starred for Mexico against Korea Republic
A versatile midfielder who can do a lot with both feet
“We couldn’t be more excited to be playing Brazil”
It all began with a piece of advice from his father when he was very young: learn to shoot with both your feet. The youngster in question, Mexico’s Sebastian Cordova, took him at his word. The 24-year-old Cordova is a natural and gifted left-footed player, but over the years he has worked hard on using his right to strike the ball. The result is that he has become a versatile and unpredictable attacking midfielder who is causing his opponents all sorts of problems at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020. “Being two-footed means I have a lot to offer the team,” said Cordova in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “There are times when the ball falls on one foot or the other and I don’t have to make any adjustments: I just hit it or pass it with that foot. It means I think more quickly and play more quickly.”
An example of that came just before half-time in the quarter-final against Korea Republic, when Cordova used his right foot to stroke home a penalty for El Tri and put them 3-1 ahead. “I’ve been practising with my right for a while now and I felt confident,” said the Mexico midfielder, who caused a stir on social media by celebrating the goal in the inimitable style of Mexico great Cuauhtemoc Blanco, having copied Lionel Messi in an earlier goal celebration.
“It [being two-footed] means I can keep my stats high and that I can play a different way in case another team’s done their homework on me.”
In the second half, Cordova followed up with an assist for Mexico’s fourth, scored the fifth with a sumptuous left-footed drive from outside the box, and looked on from the bench as El Tri added a sixth. Mexico’s 6-3 win came as a surprise, especially as Korea Republic had conceded just one goal all tournament, and that in their opening group match. “That’s how we want to play,” said Cordova. “We know very well what we’re about. We have to be thinking about scoring goals all the time. Whenever we’ve got in and around the opposition box, we’ve been clinical and put our chances away.”
Next up for Mexico are none other than Brazil, the defending champions and the team the Mexicans beat to win gold at London 2012. “We couldn’t be more excited to be playing Brazil,” Cordova explained. “It’s the kind of match every Mexican wants to play, whether they’re a player or a fan. So we just have to go out there, enjoy it and give our all.” As he went on to explain, the situation he and his team-mates face today is very different to what it was in London nine years ago, all because of Covid-19: “You really feel like you’re shut away and everyone’s a bit subdued. It’s still great to be here, though, because it’s still the Olympics. All the sports are here. It’s just the crowds that are missing.
"I watched a documentary about Mexico at London 2012 the other day and it looked amazing with the fans. You could feel the atmosphere. Even so, it’s still great here in Tokyo.”
Despite the calibre of their next opponents, El Tri are not going to change their approach and will remain loyal to the style that has brought them 14 goals in four matches, a tally they will hope to add to against A Seleção. “We’re going to keep on doing what we’ve been doing,” said Cordova. “We’re going to go in with the right attitude and the belief that we can come away with a win and give it our all.” Though the tension is rising as the competition reaches its climax, the Mexicans are determined to stand firm and keep their focus, as Cordova explained: “We think as a national team, but we all see things in our own individual way. I think we’re looking really good. We’re very focused and not at all nervous. We’re motivated, though, and absolutely determined to achieve something big.” Mexico’s new Olympic generation are anxious to continue their story: “We want the world to see that Mexico has what it takes to win. We want to build momentum, win the Olympics, and then go and do well in Qatar next year. We want the world to see that Mexico is a major power.” Cordova is ready to serve his team any way how: by serving up assists and scoring with left or right, from outside the box and from the penalty spot. The only thing he is not sure about is his next celebration. “I need to have a look and see which is the right one,” he said with a smile.