Bittersweet emotions in the Mexican camp
Josue Martinez hails "fantastic mentality"
Marco Ruiz: "We played really well"
Losing a final in the third minute of stoppage time has to rank among the cruellest disappointments football can offer. Nevertheless, the overriding feeling in the Mexican camp after their 2-1 defeat to the host nation in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019 final was one of pride.
Despite their frustration at having been just six minutes away from making their dreams come true, the beaten finalists held their heads high after the final whistle.
“Nobody thought we’d get this far but we still reached the final,” Josue Martinez told FIFA.com, still wearing his sweat-laden shirt. “We lost but we’re very proud of ourselves.”
The sight of tearful Mexican players slumped on the Estadio Bezerrao pitch remains raw, but they are determined to focus on the positives. “This is a group of players with a fantastic mentality, they never let their heads drop,” Martinez added.
Mexico coach Marco Ruiz was unequivocal in his analysis: “The boys should be very proud of themselves because it’s not every day you finish as runners-up at a World Cup.”
He was also satisfied with El Tri's development since their uninspiring goalless draw against Paraguay in their opening fixture.
“As a result of overcoming obstacles and growing over the course of the tournament, the team kept improving,” he said. “In the end it wasn’t enough. Mexico play as a team; it’s not just about one or two players. Throughout the tournament I think the boys showed teamwork in attack and in defence, and today was no exception. We played really well.”
Ruiz, a battle-hardened veteran of the game, is aware that defeats are part of the process: “This should help us keep growing and learning.”