Coach Says Mexico Won't Win World Cup Title
By Paul Gutierrez
When Javier Aguirre took over the Mexican national soccer team in June, Los Tricolores was foundering.
Mexico, a long-time CONCACAF power, was in serious jeopardy of not qualifying for the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan.
Enter Aquirre, who took over for Enrique Meza. "When I got to the national team, I found tired players without desire," Aguirre said Tuesday at the fourth Honda soccer symposium in Beverly Hills. "And we came in and changed that and called up 18 new players."
Playing under its third coach in the last 15 months, Mexico rallied in qualifying play, going 4-0-1 in its final five matches under Aguirre to place second in CONCACAF behind Costa Rica and ahead of the United States.
Mexico will play in Group G in Japan, with Croatia, Ecuador and Italy.
"Mexico did not play good soccer during qualifying during my tenure," Aguirre said. "But the important thing is that we did enough to qualify.
"We are not going to be champions in Korea. My goal is to make it to the round of 16."
Aguirre based his aspiration on the seeming lack of quality players at his disposal, especially with Cuauhtemoc Blanco recently leaving Tricolores .
"The reality is that I do not have many players like Blanco, but the team is more important than one player," Aguirre said. "If Blanco is hungry enough and has the desire, he will be on the team. If not, that will be a sign that he has a full stomach, and that would not be useful to us.
"The future of Mexican soccer does not look great. We really need to work very hard for many, many years to come. I have five months to work on the mentality of the Mexican player."