Mexico’s 2014 FIFA World Cup journey ended in controversy and disappointment, but those feelings are subsiding with the passing of time.
Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera recently reflected on his team’s “positive” performances last summer in Brazil, Guillermo Ochoa’s goalkeeping heroics and those crazy goal celebrations, which brought him international fame.
Herrera led Mexico to a second-place finish in Group A. “El Tri” then outplayed the Netherlands for much of its Round of 16 game but conceded two goals in the last eight minutes, turning what should have been a triumph (over the tournament’s third-place finishers) into a bitter defeat.
Three months now have passed, and Herrera is proud of his team’s showing on the world stage.
“The boys did a pretty good job,” Herrera told FIFA.com earlier this month. “They played at a good pace, controlled their games and had possession of the ball most of the time. Though we were agreed that we didn’t have that much time together, what we achieved was generally pretty positive.”
Upon taking charge of Mexico in October 2013, Herrera immediately faced a goalkeeping controversy. Herrera eventually settled on Ochoa as his No. 1, and the goalkeeper repaid his coach’s faith with a performance for the ages in a goal-less draw against Brazil. Ochoa’s fine displays surprised the general public but not Herrera.
“The fact is, I had a lot of confidence in all three keepers I took with me,” Herrera said. “We knew that each of them would do a good job if asked to, and I think Memo took the responsibility that came with the job. He excelled himself against Brazil because he’d prepared himself to do just that.”
Herrera celebrates his team’s goals like he scored them himself. Fans in Mexico have known this for years. Now the soccer world knows it, too.
“I feel like a fan celebrating when his team scores. It’s getting harder and harder to score in the modern game, and when your team does find the back of the net, then you have to celebrate it in the most natural way how. I always describe it as an electrical thing that goes through my whole body.”
While the lights went out early for Mexico in Brazil, its electric coach will be around for some time. Herrera has a contract to lead Mexico at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. We’ll be watching to see what one of the sport’s most true characters says and does between now and then.