Mexico keen to continue making history in this age group
Their first CONCACAF Women’s U-20 title was claimed earlier this year
Victory over Brazil on Sunday was also a tournament first for El Tri
Making unprecedented breakthroughs always provides a level of satisfaction in the achievement that is earned, not to mention the motivation to strive for even better results. That may best describe Mexico and their presence at this year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
France 2018 represents the eighth time that El Tri have appeared in this competition as one of the qualifiers from CONCACAF. Yet, what makes this appearance different from the previous seven is the title they claimed in assuring their spot in Brittany this month. Though it required the drama of two penalty shoot-outs, Mexico overcame Canada in the semi-finals and USA in the final to be crowned CONCACAF Women’s U-20 champions for the first time in January.
It is an achievement that goalkeeper Emily Alvarado is more than happy to speak about. “It was something we had been working towards for a really long time, so to finally lift that trophy was a really incredible moment for us,” she said in an interview with FIFA.com. “Winning the CONCACAF title gave us a lot of confidence and it just motivated us to keep taking those extra steps forward, in order to get ready for this tournament.”
Having reached new heights in their region, Christopher Cuellar’s side made more history in front of the football fans of Dinan-Lehon, as they defeated reigning South American champions Brazil in a dramatic five-goal thriller on Sunday. The Mexicans’ determination to overturn a one-goal deficit and claim a maiden victory over A Canarinha in the competition was another boost of confidence for this young side.
“Being down 2-1 in the first half, we knew it was going to take a lot of effort to come back and win it,” said Alvarado, who played her part in Sunday’s victory with some key saves at the Stade du Clos Gastel. “I don’t think any of us had any doubt throughout the whole match that we would come back and give our best effort to win, so getting that result was really exciting for us.”
With Korea DPR and England still to play in what looks to be a competitive Group B, the momentum that Alvarado and her team-mates feel they have could finally take Mexico past the quarter-final stage of this tournament, having reached the last eight on three previous occasions. Should that become a reality, it will be another step forward in the North American nation’s aspirations to be contenders in the women’s game.
“I think as the years go on, Mexico in women’s football is starting to beat high-ranked teams and starting to really compete in all of these big tournaments,” Alvarado said. “I think with the start of our league [in Mexico], it’s been really helpful for us to take our programme to the next level.”