Despite only managing to stay alive in World Cup qualifying by the skin of its teeth, Mexico striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and coach Victor Manuel Vucetich sounded optimistic and perhaps a little ungrateful -- at least in the case of Vucetich.
After finishing the Concacaf Hexagonal in fourth, and thus squeaking into the final international playoff spot versus Oceania winner New Zealand, Mexico has received heavy criticism at home and abroad for a poor qualifying campaign that ultimately saw it depend on late goals from the USA to leapfrog Panama, which was just a minute-and-a-half from qualifying for the playoff spot at Mexico’s expense.
"If you want to see the playoff in the negative, that is one way to look at it but God has given us another chance and that is the way I see it," Manchester United striker Hernandez told Univision after El Tri’s 2-1 loss away to Costa Rica.
Meanwhile, Vucetich, Mexico's third coach in three months, said there was no reason to thank the United States for gifting Mexico its lifeline by beating Panama, as the U.S. players were just doing their job. "My mission with the national team was for us to qualify. We beat Panama and that was the critical point and the combination of results turned out in such a way that we reached our objective," Vucetich said. "As professionals we should play all of our games at our best level of play. ... We have to praise ethical and professional behavior, in this case by the United States.”