World Cup: Dos Santos cut continues to pain Mexico
The controversy over Coach Javier Aguirre's decision to leave 20-year-old midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos off the team for South Africa continued to swirl around El Tri on Tuesday, a day before the team was scheduled to break camp here and head for Brussels, where they meet Italy on Thursday.
The team did not make Aguirre or Dos Santos available to the media Monday. Nor was Dos Santos' brother, midfielder Giovani Dos Santos, who is still with the team, allowed to talk. But the boys' father Zizinho, a former first-division player in Mexico, more than filled the void, first telling a Mexican TV network that Jonathan will never play for the Mexican national team again, then telling the newspaper Reforma that Giovani doesn't want to play either.
"Giovani is hurting. Giovani is shattered," the paper quoted Zizinho as saying. "Giovani does not even feel like playing in the World Cup. ... His dream was to be with his brother."
But Giovani hardly looked shattered Tuesday, skipping off the bus when the Mexican team returned to their hotel following practice. Teammates, meanwhile, tried to put an end to the whole affair.
"It hit everybody, but we have to continue working," Mexico captain Gerardo Torrado said during a media conference that was dominated by questions about the Dos Santos brothers. "But Giovani, it hit him more directly because it was his brother. So we have to let him know that we support him. We've been talking to him since yesterday, and we'll keep talking because he's an important player. We have to make him feel at home, feel better so that he can continue training with the rest to be as good as possible at the World Cup."
Jonathan Dos Santos was widely expected to make the Mexican team before sustaining a muscle tear in late April while training with his club team in Barcelona. That limited his playing time in Mexico's final exhibitions and led Aguirre to keep veteran striker Adolfo Bautista over Dos Santos, who had earned the respect of many of his teammates. Partly because of that, the decision didn't appear to be a popular one among the players.
But Israel Castro, who joined Torrado at Tuesday's newss conference, tried to downplay that as well
"It was fair because we all knew before the start of this trip that one of us would be gone, that one of us would be cut," he said. "But we have to turn the page."
As for the elder Dos Santos comments in Mexico, Torrado deftly sidestepped that question.
"We should look at those declarations as coming from a father who defends his son," he said. "I haven't seen everything he said, but let's take them that way."
-- Kevin Baxter in Herzogenaurach, Germany
Photo: Jonathan Dos Santos. Credit: Josep Lago / AFP / Getty Images.