2012 Olympics l Mexico looking for perfect game in final vs. Brazil
August 10, 2012
LONDON – Mexico coach Luis Fernando Tena thinks his team will need an “almost perfect” game to pull off an upset against Brazil in the men’s Olympic football final on Saturday.
Tena loudly praised the quality of the Brazilian team on Friday and said he expects Mexico to have a lot of difficulties to try to win its first Olympic gold in football in the final at Wembley.
“They have a (solid) player in each position, I wouldn’t even try to point out a weak point,” Tena said. “We have to play a great game, almost perfect, if we want to win. It’s very important to try to impose our game.”
Mexico will be playing in its first Olympic final, and this year’s campaign is already its best ever in the tournament. Mexico’s previous best showing at the Olympics was at the 1968 Mexico City Games, when it was beaten in the bronze-medal match 2-0 by Japan.
The Mexicans arrived at the London Games with an outside chance to win gold, while Brazil was considered the biggest favorite from the beginning because it brought most of its top players to try to win its first gold.
“We have to play a great game against Brazil, conscious that Brazil is the great favorite even before the tournament started,” Tena said. “I read a story yesterday which said the bookmakers expect Brazil to beat Mexico by a big margin, but we are confident in our own strengths and I think we can produce a surprise.”
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Mexico actually beat Brazil in the last time the teams played, winning 2-0 in a friendly in the United States in June. Some of the Mexican players at the Olympics were in that match too, as were nearly all of the Brazilians who will be in Saturday’s final, including young star striker Neymar.
“Neymar does worry us, but the rest of the team too,” Tena said. “Brazil is a very strong team. If you look at the squad, you see they have players with great quality everywhere. They have the luxury of having (Paulo Henrique) Ganso and (Alexandre) Pato on the bench – from there you know what level they have.”
Mexico has won six of the last 12 matches against the Brazilians since 1999, losing four and drawing two.
But on Saturday, the Mexicans won’t be able to count on one of its top players, Giovani Dos Santos, who injured his right hamstring in the semifinals. Dos Santos scored one of the goals against Brazil in the June friendly and had three goals already in the Olympic tournament, including one in the quarterfinals.
“It’s a shame that Giovani, who is a great player with a great attitude, can’t play,” Tena said. “It’s very painful for him and sensitive for the team, but at the same time this team has shown that it’s very mentally strong and can overcome many adversities.”
Mexico reached the final by winning Group B after drawing 0-0 with South Korea, beating Gabon 2-0 and defeating Switzerland 1-0. The Mexicans needed extra time to get past Senegal 4-2 in the quarterfinals, then came from behind to defeat Japan 3-1 in the semis.
“We have the silver in our hands, but we are not content with this, we are going for gold,” Tena said.