Miguel Garcia: Arrogance wins, Mexico loses

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After winning gold at the London Olympics last year, Mexico, without exception, thought the golden age of local football had started.

Instead, this year has become a nightmare. The reason? Arrogance has won Mexican football, starting with the manager, Jose Manuel de la Torre, and also the players, who underestimated Concacaf rivals on the road to Brazil 2014.

They thought they were ready to face countries like Brazil, Italy or Spain at the Confederations Cup, instead of focusing on reality.

The result was the bust against the big countries that caused the loss of confidence among the players. Pressure has started to tell on the general board and also the manager, who thought winning the Gold Cup weeks after the Confederations Cup would fix everything.

Arrogance stayed with de la Torre, who sent a B squad to face Panama, Martinique and Canada at the group stage, and then Trinidad and Tobago.

With disappointment at high levels and and all the critics castigating the team, Mexico faced Panama at the semifinals. The result was one of the biggest humiliations in Mexico's footballing history.

After all of this, de la Torre's job was in doubt and all the Mexican media united in demanding a change on the bench.

But the general board of the Mexican FA decided to stay with "Chepo'' for the last four matches of the qualifiers, despite de la Torre having lost control of the team.

There were some big names on the table - Tomas Boy, Miguel Herrera, Víctor Manuel Vucetich and Marcelo Bielsa were possibilities to manage the national team, but Chepo got the trust.

That was the biggest mistake.

In the end, what happened was what everybody was expecting. Mexico's loss against Honduras at the Azteca created uproar all over the country.

At 3am on the day after Honduras match, de la Torre was fired.

His workmate on the team, Luis Fernando Tena, accepted the challenge and took the team to the United States to win that match.

But then came another loss and Tena was also fired. Six points lost again because of the arrogance.

A second plan went on the table, and it was the one everybody had thought of weeks before: Vucetich took the team with the goal of gaining the six points remaining and at least getting the playoff against New Zealand.

It was too late. The players had lost confidence. Against Panama, only the miracle of Raul Jiminez's bicycle kick saved the ship.

In the last match, when Mexico needed more than ever a victory or at least a draw, the team's performance was very disappointing - the worst of the year and Mexico lost 1-2.

It was only the United States - Mexico's biggest rival - winning their match against Panama that gave Mexico the pass to the playoffs. It was a humiliation to the "Tri''.

Now begins a new era for the national team - the fourth one this year.

Herrera has taken the helm, and is the manager who will face New Zealand with the players who won with him five months ago in the Mexican League with Club America.

If the loss of confidence that is keeping Mexico's team from performing at their best results in their not qualifying for Brazil next year, it would be the worst failure since 1982, when they didn't participate in Spain.

Today, nobody remembers last year's gold medal in London.

Miguel Garcia is chief editor of the Daily Sports Record, the biggest sports newspaper in Mexico. This is the first of a series of columns leading into the All Whites-Mexico home-and-away World Cup playoff.

- NZ Herald

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