'Cautiously optimistic' as Mexico heads to World Cup
As if there weren't enough sources of anxiety in daily life in Mexico, a new existential question mark is rankling nerves here -- will Mexico advance past the first round in the upcoming 2010 World Cup?
L.A. Times sports writer Kevin Baxter, who is closely following the Mexican "seleccion" as it prepares for South Africa, reports that Mexico's fans are "cautiously optimistic" as the squad heads into tough friendly matches this week in Europe. Baxter meets with a small group of hard-core fans of El Tri, as the national team is also known, who cite a poll in which fellow aficionados see grim fortunes for Mexico:
Two days before Mexico's farewell game, Sanchez and three like-minded friends met at a rooftop restaurant near Mexico City's trendy Zona Rosa district to talk about the national team's World Cup chances. They're hopeful, they agreed, but not optimistic. Supportive, but not irrational.
Mexico is on its fourth coach since the last World Cup tournament. Nearly half its projected starting lineup is still in Europe and won't join the team until less than a month before its World Cup opener. And two of the top teams in the world are in its first-round group.
The whole article is here.
The most optimistic hope is that Mexico could play four games in South Africa, but on Sunday, Mexico struggled in a 1-0 win over a second-string Chile team in a friendly match at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. (Insert woeful groan here.) When FIFA tournament play finally begins on the morning of June 11, Mexico faces off against the hosts, South Africa, in the very first match. (Another groan?)
Its Group A also includes strong squads from Uruguay and France. (Another, perhaps?) Baxter has more coverage of the squad here, here, here, and a feature on rabid Mexico fans north of the border, here.
-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City
Photo: A Mexico fan during a U.S.-Mexico match in 2009. Credit: Los Angeles Times