"Now I see hunger," Mexican coach Javier Aguirre said of his squad, in comments published by the AP. "They want to write a chapter in history, right from the first day.
Let's hope so.
Mexico opens the World Cup June 11 in the tournament's inaugural match against host country South Africa. El Tri - as the team is known for its three-colour kit, the black version of which is sold out in Mexico - enters the tournament with high hopes, but a history of flaming out in the round of 16 and exiting the tournament in rather calamitous style. (The 2002 elimination by the United States would surely rank as the most notorious of those calamities.)
Some Mexicans are turning to faith - as they often do - on the eve of the tournament. Many of the faithful are flocking to the San Gabriel Arcangel parish near the Tacuba metro station in Mexico City, where they pray in front of a statue known as the Santo Niño de los Milagros for intervention. The statue is dressed in a Mexican team jersey, sewed by women who credit the santo niño with past miracles.
Past petitions for intervention appear to have gone unheeded; perhaps this year will be different. I wrote on faith and football for Canwest News Service; click on the post title to read the story.