Las Aztecas can achieve something special after upsetting England

Published Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Comments
Toggle font size
Print

John Ashdown: Mexico's charismatic coach Leonardo Cuéllar has his side dreaming of more shocks at the women's World Cup

Hope Powell was in no mood to admit as much post-match, but the England coach must have been frustrated with the manner in which her side started the tournament on Monday night. For a 20-minute patch in the first half England played as well as anyone has in the World Cup thus far, but Mexico's equaliser (and, following Karen Bardsley's directive this week let's call it a superb strike from Monica Ocampo) drew the wind from their sails like a vacuum gulping up floor fluff. In the end, if either side deserved to win it was Las Aztecas.

The Mexico coach Leonardo Cuéllar has been a jocular character in Wolfsburg this week, though sadly he doesn't look like this any more. He and his side have been staying in the same hotel as England and when we popped over there for a couple of interviews with Powell's squad on Saturday, the Mexico coach could be found tucking into a hefty burger in the lobby. At press conferences he has been more than willing to answer questions in English and even acted as interpreter for Maribel Domínguez when the Mexico captain was facing the press. He has come across as a man with faith in his side, realistic ambitions and a recognition of the value of his team's efforts for women's football back home.

His team showed enough against England to suggest a decent run in the tournament. They had to hang on a bit early on, but once they got their foot in the door they gave England a mighty scare (I thought they should have had one penalty, but the TV chaps reckon the early tackle by Faye White on Domínguez might have been a spot-kick too). The Mexico captain had been highlighted as the main threat before the game but I thought Ocampo and Stephany Mayor were very good too. Cecilia Santiago, who became the youngest keeper of either sex to play in a World Cup, was old beyond her years in goal.

Mexico now travel to Leverkusen. Avoid defeat against Japan there and Cuéllar and co can start thinking about reaching the quarter-finals – a feat that would be a stunning achievement for a side ranked 22 in the world. "We have in our mind that we can achieve something special here," Cuéllar said after the draw in Wolfsburg. Don't be too surprised if they do.

Talking points

• Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you like, but Fifa's official slogan for the tournament is "The Beautiful Side of 2011" and the headline on the front of this month's official Fifa World magazine which previews the tournament is "Belles of the Ball". It's not just me is it? They're essentially sexist aren't they? Managers and players are quite rightly at pains to emphasise this tournament isn't about gender, but it seems the governing body is making a tough task even harder.

• More good stuff from Jill Scott's video diary, including footage of the In It To Win It Quiz mentioned on these pages the other day.

• Tried one of those Test Your Shot Speed machines at the FanZone in Wolfsburg and registered a truly pathetic 68kph. Think there was something wrong with the speed gun.

• Photo of the day: nothing that can be in any way misconstrued. On way back from the stadium on Monday night, just thought these old VWs were pretty cool.

• Listen to John's audioBoo from day three of the women's World Cup.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2011
Comments Comments
0 Comments
No comments. Be the first to comment.
POST A COMMENT:
Name:  
Email address*:    
Location:  
Validation:
House Rules:  
Your Comment:  
[All comments are moderated and will not appear immediately. Your name, location and comment will be displayed on this page if your post passes moderation.]
MOST POPULAR GALLERIES
Queen’s NI visit
Tue 24 June 2014
Twelfth of July
Sat 12 July 2014
The Open Championship
Sun 20 July 2014