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Column 062314 Wall

Monday, June 23, 2014

Team Mexico is off to a Good Start at the World Cup in Brazil

By Allan Wall

My family and I are currently visiting Mexico.  It's our annual summer visit.

I resided a decade and a half in Mexico, where I was an English teacher.  There I met my wife, and we later had two sons.  Several years ago I had an offer to teach Spanish in the United States, so we moved to the U.S.  We continue to visit Mexico at Christmastime and during the summer.  It's a good way to keep in touch with my wife's family, with Mexico and with the metropolitan area in which we formerly resided.

Our two sons are bilingual, speaking English and Spanish, and they sound like native speakers in each language.  And they are able to spend time with their maternal grandparents during our visits, and do other interesting things.

There are a number of things going on in Mexico, including energy reform negotiations in Congress and legislative elections in some states.  But what most people care about now is the World Cup, which takes place once every four years.

Right now, the World Cup of soccer is going on and that's the big deal in Mexico.  See my previous Mexidata column, entitled "Mexico is on its way to the 2014 World Cup Games in Brazil," which explains the World Cup even for readers who don't know anything about it. (I knew almost nothing about it before I moved to Mexico.)

One thing I've noticed here during this World Cup is that games are being shown in movie theaters.  Spectators can go to the cinema and pay for a particular World Cup game and watch it in the theater as you would a movie.

Mexicans are excited about their national team which represents them in Brazil, and thousands of Mexican fans have gone to Brazil to cheer them on.  Some of them wear outlandish costumes, including big sombreros.  (Some Mexicans complain about Mexican sombrero stereotypes, but watch Mexican soccer fans at a game and ask, "Who is doing the stereotyping?")

So far, the Mexican team has done well.  Its first game was against the West African nation of Cameroon.  That game was held on the second day of the World Cup, on June 13th, Friday the 13th.  (According to Hispanic superstition, the unlucky day is Tuesday the 13th, not Friday the 13th as in the Anglo-Saxon world; though in recent years Hollywood has spread the Friday the 13th superstition to Mexico.)

Anyway, whatever superstition anyone observed Mexico beat Cameroon 1-0.  The winning point was scored by Oribe Peralta, a native of the village of La Partida near Torreon in the Laguna region of northern Mexico.  An interesting thing about that game was that it was raining throughout the whole game.

Team Mexico faced its second challenge on June 17th.  This game was against Brazil, a formidable opponent for several reasons.  Not only did Brazil have the home field advantage, but after all, this was Brazil – the most successful World Cup soccer team in history.  Brazil has won five World Cups, more than any other national team.

So, although Mexico has beaten Brazil before (in the 2012 Olympics, for example, see here http://www.mexidata.info/id3431.html), you never want to take a game with Brazil for granted.

The result: in a hard-fought soccer game, the two teams wound up in a tie, 0 to 0.  Neither team scored.  This felt like a victory for the Mexican fans.

Of course, a scoreless tie is an indication of very good defense, and in soccer the goalies are responsible for much of this.

Team Mexico owed a lot that day to frizzy-haired goalie Guillermo Ochoa, born in Guadalajara.  They got their money's worth out of Ochoa, who again and again had to stop the soccer ball from scoring for Brazil.

All in all, it was like a victory for Mexico.  If you can walk out of a Brazilian stadium not having been beaten by Brazil, you've done well.

Mexico's next game is scheduled for today, June 23rd, when Team Mexico faces Croatia, in the Arena Pernambuco Stadium in Recife, Brazil.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info.

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