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World Cup: Trouble brewing in Mexican camp?

It was subtle. And it could be nothing more than frustration boiling over after a difficult loss. But there have been signs that all may not be well in the Mexican camp, something Coach Javier Aguirre hinted at in his postgame press conference after El Tri qualified for the second round despite losing to Uruguay on Tuesday.

“We cannot coach by congress,” said Aguirre, who has been criticized by both fans and the Mexican media for his team’s inconsistent performance. “When it comes to setting up the national team, it’s my responsibility, and we'll see how far we can take it.”

Aguirre entered the World Cup saying this could be the best team in Mexican history. And Mexican Football Federation President Justino Compean guaranteed it would reach the quarterfinals, something only two other Mexican teams have done.

But although El Tri has won praise for its aggressive style, its offense sputtered in a first round in which it had to rally to tie South Africa before being shut out by Uruguay.

Aguirre made a couple of questionable moves Tuesday, starting lead-legged Cuauhtemoc Blanco, at 37 the oldest outfield player in the World Cup, and removing midfielder Andrés Guardado at halftime despite the fact that he had played well in the first 45 minutes.

Blanco, who also wore the captain’s armband Tuesday, blew through the media without talking after the game;  Guardado was accompanied by a security guard, who made sure no one tried to question the player.

Afterward, Aguirre, who took responsibility for both decisions, appeared to question his team’s resolve.

“Perhaps at the start we lacked the intensity we needed to win the game,” he said. “It makes me nervous that we haven’t maintained our rhythm for 90 minutes. Not against South Africa, not [Tuesday].”

-- Kevin Baxter in Rustenburg, South Africa

 
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