Mexico’s millions of soccer fans have gold on the brain.
The Mexican men’s national team gets its first-ever chance at Olympic gold when it takes on Brazil tomorrow.
Mexico already made history by making it to the Olympic soccer final for the first time following a 3-1 win over Japan on Tuesday. And Brazil – a powerhouse in the soccer world – scored its way to two Olympic finals in Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988 but settled for silver both times.
Mexico’s Oribe Peralta, who scored the second goal against Japan, told Mexico’s Milenio newspaper, “We can win against anyone and Brazil is not unbeatable.”
That’s true enough: Mexico has beat or tied Brazil every time the two teams have found themselves matched in a historic final, from the 1975 Pan-American Games, Gold Cups in 1996 and 2003, the Confederations Cup in 1999, and finally, in a win for Mexico over Brazil in the Sub-17 World Cup in Peru in 2005.
Mexico’s “tricolor” (the team is known for its trio of colors echoing the Mexican flag’s red, white, and green) had to defeat South Korea, Gabon, Switzerland, Senegal, and Japan to make it to the Olympic final. Brazil had to overcome Egypt, Belarus, New Zealand, Honduras, and South Korea.
Mexico City taxi driver Jose Sanchez Eliazalde turned up the radio as news of the upcoming game came on: One of Mexico’s star players, Giovani Dos Santos, won’t play in Saturday’s game due to an injury.
“No one is indispensable,” says Mr. Sanchez Eliazalde, getting worked up at the mere mention of the gold-medal game. “We are going to win. We’ve never won anything – only disgrace. Now it’s our turn.”
No matter who kicks the winning gol, a gold medal will mark a first-time Olympic soccer champion.