Cordova put his team ahead from the penalty spot
He then set up two goals from set pieces
Romo and Rodriguez also delighted to take home bronze
As soon as his work was done, Sebastian Cordova allowed a broad smile to spread across his face. The 24-year-old and his team-mates had just comfortably swept aside host nation Japan 3-1 in the bronze medal match in Saitama to secure Mexico’s second Men’s Olympic Football Tournament medal after taking gold at London 2012.
SAITAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Daichi Hayashi #19 of Team Japan battles for possession with Johan Vasquez #5 of Team Mexico during the Men's Bronze Medal Match between Mexico and Japan on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Stadium on August 06, 2021 in Saitama, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
SAITAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 06: Diego Lainez #10 of Team Mexico battles for possession with Ritsu Doan #10 of Team Japan during the Men's Bronze Medal Match between Mexico and Japan on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Saitama Stadium on August 06, 2021 in Saitama, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Perhaps even more importantly, the result meant the midfielder could stick to his word. “I kept the promise I made to my family, my girlfriend and all my loved ones. I came here to win a medal, and now we can go back with one.”
To make sure his plans did not go awry, Cordova delivered a commanding performance and was involved in all three of El Tri’s goals. He confidently converted a penalty to put them 1-0 up, sent a dangerous free-kick into the box for Johan Vasquez to head home for 2-0, and then provided a perfectly-placed corner to set up Alexis Vega’s thumping header after the break.
“I think you could see how comfortable I felt on the pitch today,” he said. “I couldn’t have done these things without the team, so I thank them for the confidence they have given me. That was fundamental.”
The performance could even help the midfielder, who currently plays for Club America in Mexico, to take his career to the next level. “I made up my mind before coming here that I was going to play a great tournament. I still need to improve and follow my own path.
“It was a very difficult tournament, as we had three very good teams in the group phase and yet we achieved things that many people did not believe were possible. Not everyone can come here and win a medal, so we’re extremely happy and proud of what we have done,” Cordova concluded.
“We have made more history for Mexican football, so I hope our fans can enjoy the medal and celebrate it,” added Cordova’s midfield team-mate Luis Romo. “I’m enjoying the moment, and it will be a very nice feeling to have that medal around our necks tomorrow. Right now I just need to let it all sink in for a while. It was important for us to come back with this medal. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a child.”
The fact that Mexico’s football does not always immediately attract attention in Europe makes winning the bronze medal even more important in the eyes of Carlos Rodriguez, the third midfielder in El Tri’s starting line-up. “The whole world watches these tournaments, and it’s great to think that they are watching us play. I know that Mexicans have the quality to compete at this level, so we must make everyone see that we are ready for these games and that we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
Mexico were certainly ready on this hot and humid Friday evening in Yokohama, and their achievement adds another chapter to the country’s history of footballing success.