***The Tri Lows and Highs are a series of posts to relive the good and bad moments of the Mexican national team leading up to the 2014 World Cup.*** Two years ago around this time in the summer the world was getting ready to watch the Olympics in London. Mexico had qualified for the football tournament and expectations, as always with any Mexican football team, were high. In the end, Mexico won the gold medal at Wembley. This summer many of the players that were on that squad will also represent Mexico at the World Cup. The bulk of the squad that would play in the Olympic tournament in London had just come off a win at the Toulon Tournament. Though Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and Carlos Vela did not join the squad as they had been expected to do, it turned out that in the end they weren’t missed. Jesus Corona was called in as goalkeeper as one of three overage players allotted on the squad along with Carlos Salcido and Oribe Peralta.
José de Jesús Corona*
José Antonio Rodríguez
Giovani dos Santos
*Denotes the overage players. Bolded are players in the WC squad.
Mexico’s opening game saw the team draw 0-0 with South Korea which caused some panic.
In the next game against Gabon, the team really started to gel and produced great results on the field which culminated in a 2-0 win with two goals from Giovani Dos Santos.
Mexico then took the top position of their group with a 1-0 win against Switzerland with a goal from Oribe Peralta.
Goals in the second half from Senegal caused some panic as it forced the game in to extra time, but in the end Mexico rallied and defeated the African team 4-2 in the quarterfinals.
With a medal on the horizon, Mexico faced Japan in the semifinals. In the end, a tough battle resulted in a 3-1 win for Mexico and a spot in the gold medal match against the favorites, Brazil.
Mexico scored early on in the match and held a 2-0 lead. In added time, Hulk scored and cut the lead in half but it was ultimately not enough to force the game into extra time and Mexico won the gold medal in football for the first time in its history. The 2-1 win saw the Mexican squad up on the podium to collect their medals under manager Luis Tena.
These highlights are quick summaries of the matches, but you can reread the match reports through the above links or read more of our Olympic coverage here.
The Olympics were a great high for the team, not only because they eventually won it all, but because it showed a real glimpse of Mexico’s future. Many members of that gold medal squad were at the ends of their teens and the beginnings of their twenties with their professional future still ahead. Now many members of the squad will represent Mexico in the 2014 World Cup.
Some, like Alan Pulido, did not make it to the Olympic squad but still participated throughout the process and held Mexico qualify for the tournament.
But two of the greatest things that the medal winning squad can use with the World Cup squad is the camaraderie and winning spirit.
The 2012 squad was united. They had a familiar spirit that you could see on the field. They knew each other and that ultimately helped them achieve their goal. That familiarity has in a sense seemed to carry over into the new squad. You can see it in the countless selfies they post on their social media accounts, but beyond that a great deal of the squad knows how their teammates play.
Another is their winning spirit. There’s a popular saying that has many times described the Mexican team. Jugaron como nunca, perdieron como siempre. They played like never before, they lost like always. The Olympic team transcended that saying and really put it behind them throughout the 2012 summer. Despite the obstacles that came up, they managed to overcome them to eventually reach the highest point.
The could have easily given up another goal in the game against Senegal but they rallied when it was needed. The goal from Brazil and their push at the end for an equalizer in the gold medal game could have torn the team down, but they held on. It’s that attitude that they showed to fight until the end that needs to be shown again in this tournament. They played like never before, but this time they also won.
And the fact that there’s a strong base from the 2012 squad surely helps a great deal. You can see the 2012 squad’s camaraderie and spirit in the documentary Oro, el dia que todo cambio. It’s a great watch with much commentary from the players. It starts with some of the problems the squad faced and goes through the whole tournament and is definitely worth a watch.