Monday, May 27, 2013

The opening match of Mexico was also their easiest – against Tunisia. At least by the end of the first half – Mexico was not very good, but it looked like they were taking it easy, perhaps neglecting whatever feeble opposition the outsiders had to offer. In the very last minute of the first half Mexico got a penalty and Ayala scored. With some difficulty, but normal nevertheless – the goal very likely likely was to clip Tunisian enthusiasm and Mexico surely was going to control the second half and win the match.

Did not happen – the second half was Tunisian, they scored three unanswered goals and won 3-1.
Leonardo Cuellar seemingly in control, leaving behind awkward looking Ali Kaabi.

The second match was the toughest for the Mexicans – against West Germany they had no chance, according to general consensus, yet, they were not expected to be utterly destroyed. If there was a surprise, it was only the result: Mexico was expected to lose, but not by 0-6.
Even Russmann, far at the left, appeared to be scoring a goal against entirely clueless, helpless, and hopeless Mexicans. Well, he did not, but look at the Mexican goalkeeper – is he doing anything at all, save for watching? So desperate the situation was, Mexico used two goalkeepers – after receiving 3 goals by the 37th minute, Pilar Reyes was replaced by Soto. Who also received three goals. Instead of 'hidden favourites' and the big surprise of the tournament, Mexico was already eliminated.

Their last match mattered only for Poland, needing a tie, which was hardly set-up for entertaining game. It was a match leaving no trace, hardly even a photo. Boniek scored for Poland in the 42nd minute, then Rangel equalized in the 51st, then Poland scored two more goals and won 3-1. Mexico was entirely demotivated and Poland, struggling with its own from and shape, won almost by default. Critics of coach Roca and his selection had a field day and rightly so: instead of winning the World Cup, Mexico finished last in the unofficial final table without a single point. Immediately the team was proclaimed the worst ever Mexican team,which is probably unfair judgment, but losers are never treated 'fairly' – after all, who lost every match they played?

At the end, Mexico left two bits of trivial memory: the very unusual kit the West Germans used against Mexico:
Berti Vogts leaving the field after destroying Mexico: white jersey, black shorts, green socks – a mix of first and reserve kit, hardly ever used by West Germany, so worth mentioning.

And the Mexican second kit, used against Tunisia:
A rare design for a national team kit, unusual colour combination for Mexico, and, in my opinion, one of the prettiest kits ever used at World Cup finals.

Yet, with surprises and disappointments, Group 2 finished exactly as predicted:

1. Poland 2 1 0 4-1 5

2. West Germany 1 2 0 6-0 4

3. Tunisia 1 1 1 3-2 3

4. Mexico 0 0 3 2-12 0

It was also the least satisfying group – West Germany and Poland obviously had problems and did not play well. Mexico was a big disappointment, and quite a few were sorry Tunisia did not advance, yet, it was more of sympathy for the underdog than thinking that Tunisia was stronger option.