In Mexico City, the country's world cup soccer team are drawing toward the climax of their preparations for next month's World Cup finals in Argentina.
In Mexico City, the country's world cup soccer team are drawing toward the climax of their preparations for next month's World Cup finals in Argentina. Mexico were World Cup hosts themselves in 1970.
SYNOPSIS: Although it is not a popular theory in the Mexican training camp, many football experts believe Mexico qualifies for the World Cup finals only because of its geographical position in the Central American Zone. Its most difficult opponents are countries like Haiti, Guatemala and Canada. Of the ton tournaments which have been played, Mexico has taken part in seven as winners of their zone. Once they get to the finals, the story is different. With world class teams against them, Mexico has won only three of 21 matches it has played in the World Cup finals.
The captain, Arturo Vasquez Ayala, is only 28 but widely experienced. Cristobal Ortega, a winger, is an exciting player with considerable talent.
In the mid-field, men like Grardo Luga are expecting to make their mark, and goalkeeper Pedro Soto has class gained from playing behind cool tacticians like Javier Cardenas.
Twenty-one-year-old striker Victor Rangel is the team's most feared player. And while Carlos Gomez has shown promise as a defender, he is not in the first-choice team. Leonardo Cuellar's soccer attack is as flamboyant as his hair-style, and at the age of 26, is reaching his peak.
Alongside Cuellar in mid-field will probably be Guillermo Mendizabal, who showed up well in a recent match in West Germany against Stuttgart. Football experts are saying that with these men, Mexico at last has a team which justifies a place in the World Cup finals. They are young, but mounting international success has boosted their confidence. Their coach, Jose Antonia Roca, expects them to do well in Agrentina. Roca has given so much of his time to this group of young players that he was sacked by his league club, Atletico Espanol, for neglecting his duties there. Roca is placing a great deal of value on the fitness of his players to compete against the toughest opponents the sport of soccer can offer. He is working them harder than ever before.
Many people who have seen the Mexican team at top form believe this may be the year when the country prove that its team is going to Argentina on merit, rather than by the quirks of world geography. Some of Europe's top coaches and players have frankly admitted that they are afraid of Mexico.