In the last match of the Gold Cup’s group stage, Mexico lost to Qatar, the worst team in the last World Cup. During the last World Cup, Qatar became the fastest host country to exit the tournament in its 92-year-old history. The 58th-ranked national team’s victory over Mexico destroyed the narrative that the team had been salvaged after the Federation hired a Mexican coach.
“Having a Mexican head coach makes a huge difference,” midfielder Edson Alvarez said after Jimmy Lozano became the interim coach.
After their second win in the tournament against Haiti, Mexico qualified for the playoffs of the Gold Cup. The loss to Qatar did not just interrupt their progress in the tournament. The loss shattered the illusion that the Lambor-Jimmy fixed the previous disappointments.
Lozano’s tenure isn’t going to transform a national team that did not make it past the World Cup group stage for the first time since 1978 into an Olympic Bronze medal winner in less than a week.
Lozano’s Eurocentric coaching style isn’t going to transform a national team that has not won a game against Team USA since 2019 into Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Lozano needs to turn Mexico’s loss against Qatar into a lesson learned that will help solidify his place as the permanent head coach during the World Cup cycle. Here are three ways their loss against Qatar could demonstrate Lozano’s strength as head coach.
Why Mexico’s Loss to Qatar Was Necessary
Demonstrate The Flaws
In their last five games, Mexico has conceded five goals against Haiti, Qatar, and the US. Granted, 60% of the goals came against the US but their defensive mistakes lead to bad results.
During Qatar’s goal, Hazem Shehata snuck behind Julian Araujo, who’s playing time has been limited after his transfer to Barcelona.
Cocca’s defensively-driven coaching philosophy, as he demonstrated with Atlas championship season, couldn’t help Mexico during his time as coach. His style of coaching caused three goals against the US that led to his dismissal.
The defensive flaws are a great place for Lozano to turn this National team around. The core defensive group is young and he previously worked with Vazquez in the Olympic team.
With enough time, Lozano can turn this team into a defensive juggernaut. Julian Araujo’s move to Europe will improve his game as soon as he starts to play more. Edson Alvarez’s time with Ajax seems to be ending, but the interest from teams in the top leagues of Europe seem to be promising for his development. The defensive line behind Lozano will be a major turning point for the National team.
Earn The Media’s Trust
“The Mexican team hits [rock] bottom [after rock] bottom…you have to rebuild it from scratch,” David Faitelson tweeted after the embarrassing loss to Qatar. One of the most prominent reporters of Mexico has been the biggest critic of the National team.
After Lozano took over the team, Faitelson settled the hype, “Typical of us, Mexicans: In 3 minutes, we forgot Thursday’s [loss to the US] and the cheerleaders are already talking about a ‘new era.'”
Lozano is capable of turning the narrative into the savior complex the media and fans deserve by winning the Gold Cup. The competition isn’t the same as a World Cup, but a victory over B-teams of the US and Canada could give Mexico the reassurance that it needs in Lozano to continue as head coach.
Inspire A Leader
Andes Guardado recently announced his retirement from the National team. Mexico’s veteran leadership falls on Memo Ochoa, who turns 38 on July 13th making this Gold Cup his last major tournament as the starting goalie. With the exit of one of the leaders in the team, Lozano is in charge of appointing a leader in the team.
Having a player on the field that can directly translate Lozano’s vision on the field could be vital to the progress of the team. Can you imagine Coach Boone without the leadership of Julias Cambell and Gerry Bertier on the field in Remember the Titans?
The team would not have survived camp.
Without a player to help direct the team on the field, Lozano’s vision will collapse. Every coach needs a player to rely on to rally the team on the field. Mexico’s lineage of captains is filled with stars like Guardado, Ochoa, Herrera, and Oswaldo Sanchez. The current generation does not have anyone of that caliber to assist Lozano on the field.
“Jimmy knows them well. They know Jimmy well. And we know that this generation of Mexican soccer players is a disaster,” Faitelson tweeted after their loss to Qatar. Words like these should be taken seriously. Lozano needs to print this tweet and post it in the locker room. This Mexican generation of players needs to develop a captain that will help them play with a chip on their shoulder. The sports world could get behind an underdog story.
Lozano could inspire the next captain that can help him lead this team into the 5th game of the World Cup hosted by Mexico.
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