There is no time for Mexico to rebuild

Posted by Rafael Ramos Villagrana

COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil -- The mystery is over. Suspense prevails. The cards are on the table. All of them threaten Mexico in the World Cup.

Brazil. And Cameroon. And Croatia. FIFA's fortunetellers didn't read Mexico's future as they juggled those 32 little balls. Instead, they signed its death certificate.

The most recent Mexican national team, even the best version manager Miguel Herrera delivered against New Zealand, would not have the slightest chance if the starting whistle blew today, but... There won't be drumrolls, just the mournful sound of muffled trumpets, but...

The crucial path to the World Cup lasts only six months. Actually, 'El Piojo' Herrera will only have five months to work.

Miguel Herrera has five months to conjugate the verbs that lead to failure when urgency is more important than order, such as improvise; invent; repent; and patch.

- Marshall: Mexico's path out of the group stage

Five months to recoup the time wasted over three years. Five months to build upon the ruins. Five months to build amidst the rubble.

Can it be done? Is it feasible to face Brazil without being branded with the gruesome seal of an inevitable slaughter?

Is it possible to do battle more efficiently than Croatia?

Can the skill that makes Cameroon's players more marketable in Europe be challenged?

Let's begin with some undeniable facts: Mexico doesn't have even the faintest shadow of an experienced star like those of its opponents.

Brazil? Neymar, now maturing in Europe, will no longer be the selfish brat that Mexico tamed in that friendly in Houston.

Croatia? They're leaping up and down on the benches of the Spanish and German leagues. Modric, Manduzick, Olic, Olicevic and Rakitic? And so on.

Cameroon? Start with Eto’o, whose escort is made up of speedy, strong players, add Webo and a young talent who may be a surprise at the World Cup, if he fully recovers: Aboubakar.

But that's not the problem. Mexico doesn't inhabit those European galaxies. And the players it exports experience dreadful situations: either they're on the bench, or they're out of form, or the most notable among all of them has doggedly said 'no' to the national team, knowing that he’s the best and most complete Mexican striker today: Carlos Vela.

The problem isn’t necessarily the lack of magicians with a ball, but that Mexicans’ only sound foundation, and therefore, that of the national team, is a group game.

Together, committed, motivated, committed, even indignant, they are capable of producing miracles, or at the very least, unexpected results.

True: 2013 was a perfect showcase for Mexico's shortcomings as a team.

Conflicts, desertions, disagreements with the coach, and even desperate and hysterical replacements of coaches, and this is all a reflection of the complete absence of an authority figure in Mexican soccer.

That is: there are tyrants, dictators, chiefs and bullies, but there are no natural leaders in desperate times.

Together, over time, with hard work, with advantages, with noble weapons, Herrera and Pelaez can commit themselves to the job of sharing leadership. However, I insist that they need time, time that was stolen from them by Chepo de la Torre's alienating and alienated actions.

On this bitter list of facts, before someone chooses the dysfunctional suicide of resignation, it's worth underscoring that the process can still be saved, perhaps at a very high cost: for example, just as an example, by sacrificing the national championship, and transferring domestic players to the national squad every week, and for friendly games.

Ricardo Pelaez himself put his finger on it: “The Mexican national team is more important than Club America (current champion and overall leader, battling in the semis of the Liguilla playoffs) and that's how all of us must see it."

The problem is, compared with the emergencies faced by the national team, the Mexican league championship's reputation is overvalued.

True: it appears to be a desperate bet. It is. That's undeniable. It was in the playoff against New Zealand. But the results, the reward of running risks such as sacrificing the season, are significant: to go from a decent first round, to turn in a surprise performance in Group A, to then get into the knockout stage of the World Cup.


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