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Mexico living on faith for WC victory

The coach says that his team will not be far from the rest. | Pictures

india Updated: May 30, 2006 18:41 IST

A year ago in preparation for the Confederations Cup, Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez said the Mexican National team wanted to perform well in Germany to showcase their ability ahead of the World Cup.

Though Mexico played very well and caught everyone's eye in the tournament in Germany, they went home empty-handed. Like many other countries in Latin America, Mexico is a football nation.

Football is by far the favourite sport among Mexicans whose forefathers, the indigenous Aztec people, were familiar with an earlier form of the game. Now, Mexico are headed for their 13th World Cup. Only Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Germany have been to the finals as many times.

However, in seven decades of World Cup participation, the Mexican National team has never been able to win the 'big one', or even get further than the quarterfinals stage. In Germany 2006, history will probably repeat itself.

"I do not believe that Mexico will ever be world champions in my lifetime," Javier Aguirre, one-time Mexican National trainer and at present with Spanish club Osasuna, once said.

Despite the large pool of young talent, present in the country, Mexico has never been able to transform talent into success.

However, things seem to be changing. Under the command of the 53-year-old Argentine Ricardo La Volpe, the team made it through the eliminatory rounds in the Concacaf (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) almost without a stumble. Mexico finished tied with the US on 22 points.

The early qualification and the skill shown in the Confed Cup in Germany, confirmed the process of renovation set in motion by La Volpe and Mexico's new stars - Francisco Fonseca, Rafael Marquez (Barcelona) and Jared Borgetti (Bolton).

The team has begun to play without inhibition and has showed a sound tactical concept - something lacking in teams of the past.

La Volpe's philosophy is to play with aggressiveness, pressing the rival and to attack opponents early, but the strength and tactical discipline of European football team are the 'windmills' that wait for the 'Tricolor' to tilt on German soil.

"We are not far from the other teams. If we manage to stay on equal footing with the others, we can win," says La Volpe, who has already tasted the sweet taste of success as an Argentinian substitute goalkeeper of the winning team in 1978.

"In Germany, with our mix of young and experienced players, we will get further than before," predicted striker Jared Borgetti. In a country of 104 million, most of them football fans, there are great hopes, but there are also doubts that the "Tri" will get past the last 16 in Germany 2006.

First Published: May 30, 2006 10:37 IST

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