A few months ago, it seemed Mexico would not be able to qualify for the World Cup. The team had to go through various changes especially with their coaches. Finally, Miguel Herrera arrived and changed the mentality of the Mexican team. Fast forward to present day today, and if we were to describe the Mexican team’s performance in the World Cup, the appropriate word would be… outstanding and surpassing many expectations.
The Mexican team was in the first group, along with Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon. Mexico began their World Cup journey against Cameroon, a match that had a controversial result where two goals were dismissed and labeled as offside. Next up, they faced Brazil, the host nation and clear favorite to win the World Cup, many fans thought that Brazil would beat Mexico with a very favorable score, but that was not the case, Mexico fought until the end and secured a tie. A match in which their goal keeper, Guillermo Ochoa captured the hearts and the attention of millions for his amazing saves that denied the Brazilians any goals. The last match in the group was against Croatia, a match that was hard fought and that proved how much Mexico wanted to continue and create history in this World Cup. Securing second place in their group meant they had to face first place of the second group, Netherlands. Netherlands has proven itself to be a worthy contender to lift this year’s World Cup, defeating all three teams in group stage and securing the nine points. Netherlands was runner-up in the last World Cup, when they lost to Spain in Extra Time. This year, it seems they want it all and are not afraid of any opponent. With so much on the line, both teams wanted to advance past the round of sixteen, Mexico wanted to make history given the fact that they have been denied in the last five World Cups. Netherlands wanted to repeat its brilliant performance from the last World Cup.
Both teams knew what was at stake and both were confident in their teams.
The match started out with Mexico attacking more while Netherlands was more on the defensive side. Mexico took control for most of the match and managed to contain three key players in Netherlands, Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. The first half remained scoreless, but soon after halftime, the scoreboard was opened, Giovanni Dos Santos, would net first for the Mexican side. For most of the second half, Memo Ochoa was the star denying clear opportunities for the Dutch. Close to the end of regulation…Wesley Sneijder was left open in the box and finally managed to equalize the marker. But Mexico would kiss their hopes goodbye in stoppage time, when it seemed defender Rafael Marquez brought Dutch striker Arjen Robben down in the box, the referee would award the Dutch a penalty. A call which many label as controversial. Nonetheless, Klass Jan Huntelaar who would come into the match as a substitute for Robin Van Persie would step up and score the penalty, the final score was now 2-1. Mexico was now eliminated for a consecutive time, and the hopes of making history, vanished.
After the game, Mexican coach Miguel Herrera spoke to the press and talked about his feelings about the match and their World Cup experience.
“[The referee should have gone] back and cautioned the guy that tried to cheat and then this would not happen again because we would be saying that if the ref is fair,” Herrera said.
“Then their second goal wouldn’t exist and [Arjen] Robben would have been expelled or suspended with a second yellow card. But if you do nothing the first time then the player knows that the referee won’t kick you out, he won’t caution you, not say anything.”
Miguel Herrera also spoke about the challenges Mexico had to face with regards to referees.
“Why do they bring referees from other confederations, South America, Africa, the Asians if ultimately they are going to have referee from the same confederation of the team you are playing against?” Herrera said. “Because doubtful decisions were always against Mexico.” “It seems to me that the reason was the referee, he left us outside the next stage,” Herrera said.
“If the referee starts marking faults that don’t exist and in the end if he invents a penalty of that size you leave the World Cup because of circumstances that are not in your control. “I repeat: In four matches that we played, in three — I repeat: three — we had referees against Mexico,” said Herrera.
“Two goals against Cameroon, two penalties in one same play against Croatia and today a penalty against us. That at least we expect that the referee will take a look at that and that this gentleman goes home just like us,” said Miguel Herrera.
After Herrera spoke to the press, Dutch striker Arjen Robben spoke to a Dutch channel and said, “I have to say, in the first half — and right away offer my excuses — I dived. I mustn’t do that. It was another stupid action.”
But he also restated that in the second half “If that wasn’t a penalty, I don’t know what is.” If there is still any doubt, check the video below and take your stance on this call.
One thing is for sure, Netherlands will advance to the next round, and Mexico is eliminated. The Dutch will face Costa Rica and attempt to continue their journey against a team that has amazed many. Mexico gave us great surprises in matches people didn’t think they would survive. After facing many challenges qualifying, it will be interesting to see how they return to the World Cup in four years and if they will keep Miguel Herrera as their head coach.