The Federacion Mexicana de Futbol and Jesus Manuel ‘Chepo’ de la Torre released Friday the list of Europe based players that will participate in Mexico’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and the United States.
Surprisingly missing from the list was goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
He’d had a much lauded performance against Paris St. Germain the previous weekend, and his missing name made little sense.
Not much later ‘Chepo’ reveled the reason Ochoa was missing from the list: he didn’t want to come if he wasn’t guaranteed a starting spot.
“On this occasion ‘Memo’ expressed that he wanted to play, that he need to play, that if he was a starter he’d come and if not, he’d prefer to not [come] as to not create a bad environment,” said ‘Chepo’ to MedioTiempo.
“I never promise any one that they will play. Circumstances change and that’s what we directly tell them.”
It’s something that should be obvious without mentioning, but no player should have a starting spot guaranteed especially in the current chaos that is the Mexican national team.
If ‘Chepo’ had bent to Ochoa’s will it would have set a bad precedent. The team would not consist of those that could best represent on the field, but rather those that had set forth the strongest demands.
On this occasion, I have to applaud ‘Chepo.’
Mexico is going through a tough time right now, but one of the spots that is secure is that of the goalkeeper’s.
Whether it’s Jesus Jose de Corona or Guillermo Ochoa or some other Mexico based goalkeeper, the position doesn’t seem like a problem. So despite Ochoa’s absence, Mexico will not crumble to the ground because of that no.
It’s not entirely too difficult to understand his frustration. Corsica to Paris, Paris to Mexico, train on a jet-lagged schedule, sit on the bench, return. It’s not exactly the most appealing prospect. Time is taken away from his life, his newborn daughter, all knowing that his presence might not make much of a difference especially if he doesn’t play.
It’s a situation that’s frustrating to anyone. But the problem lies in asking for a guarantee to play.
Guillermo Ochoa can’t cherry pick the games he wants to attend. Hard work needs to be put in from the ground up. In order to play the top games he has to put in work at the “small” games as well.
Ochoa is young, but he’s been around for a long time. And to be honest, he hasn’t had to realistically fight for many of the positions he’s held. At America he was lucky to get an early start which he managed to keep. He’s been treated many a times as a darling of the national team. And at Ajaccio he doesn’t have competition. He’s pretty much it.
He might feel like he’s been paying his dues for a long time. He’s sat and watched from the bench World Cups 2006 and 2010 go by. Oswaldo Sanchez had his last hurrah in 2006, but 2010 was unfairly taken from Ochoa.
But there have been quality goalkeepers from other countries that have had to sit on the bench even if they were starters at their clubs. Pepe Reyna and Victor Valdes are prime examples of this situation. They’ve had to watch Iker Casillas command the post. Both Reyna and Valdes have impressive records with their club teams, yet they’ve stuck with the Spanish national team. The Spanish team has only earned all their lauding in the last few years and they could’ve asked for special preference as well.
But perhaps that attitude of sticking with the team is precisely what sets winners apart from losers.
It’s the refusal to be part of a team that hurts the team. Improvement comes from competing against the best and Ochoa is refusing to do that.
Of course we do know that ‘Chepo’ is quite stubborn and since we are not present at team meetings or whatever talks go on with the player maybe Ochoa thinks that even if he competes with Corona he won’t get the top spot.
However, I do approve of Ochoa taking himself out if he knows that his attitude is going to affect that of the national team’s. With all the problems surrounding the team, having a huge elephant in the room isn’t exactly an ideal situation.
We all know how the situations between national team players and management turn out. It’s like a bad break up with “he said, she said” situations. Bitterness is obvious and grudges that go on for years are way too common.
Unfortunately, I see this as a lose situation for Ochoa rather than for Mexico. Whether Ochoa likes it or not, there are other goalkeepers that can represent that national team. While I won’t deny that Ochoa is talented and that it would be a shame to not play at an international level Mexico won’t be shooting itself in the foot by not including him in the next games. At 28 years old he still has ways to improve and time to compete. But if he doesn’t want to put in the work at the most basic level, why should he eventually give preference at the top?
Europe based players called up for Honduras and the USA
Giovani Dos Santos