Mexico out and again it's Argentina - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mexico out and again it's Argentina

28/06/2010 10:37:56 AM Comments (0)

Mexico's exit from the World Cup was a merchandising disaster for local street vendors hawking flags, sombreros and vuvuzelas, but a relief for thousands of police who had been braced for raucous celebrations around the country.

In a restaurant in downtown Mexico City on Sunday, fans were left to ponder Mexico again being knocked out of the World Cup by Argentina - this time a 3-1 loss. Four years ago, Argentina eliminated Mexico 2-1 at the same stage of the tournament.

This marks the fifth straight time that Mexico has reached the last 16 of the World Cup - and the fifth straight time it has lost. Mexico lost against Bulgaria (1994), Germany (1998), the United States (2002) and now twice in a row against Argentina.

"I don't know what it is about Argentina," said Maricarmen Sosa, receptionist at an Argentine barbecue restaurant in the heart of Mexico City. "We are afraid of them or something. Too much respect, maybe. But it's always ends up the same."

A power cut left the restaurant without lights and televisions for the first 15 minutes of the match, with patrons giving up their reservations and scurrying across the street to another restaurant which had power and the game on big screens.

Just minutes after the power was restored, Argentina took a 1-0 lead through Carlos Tevez's disputed goal, which replays showed was offside and should not have counted. Seven minutes later, Gonzalo Higuan made it 2-0 for Argentina. When Tevez made it 3-0 in the 52nd minute, Sosa buried her face in her left hand and looked away from the TV screen for several minutes.

"No, not again," she shouted.

Upstairs in the packed restaurant, Argentine Jorge Richotti and his Mexican colleague Gerardo Tamayo watched the match together. They are directors of Mexico's professional basketball league, sharing a friendship that goes back almost a decade.

"We came to celebrate for Argentina as much as Mexico," Tamayo said. "Now we have to wait four more years. As Mexicans we are used to it."

Mexico has only twice reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Despite the country's size - 120 million - and football tradition it has never quite delivered.

A few blocks away at the Angel de la Independencia monument - the traditional site for football celebrations - policemen said they were relieved.

"I feel sad for the team, but it makes our jobs easier," said a policemen - hands crossed casually behind his back - who asked to be identified only as Javier. "We were preparing for anything."

Mexico's 2-0 win over France 10 days ago prompted a wild, 12-hour celebration at the Angel, and that for a victory in the group stage. Beating Argentina would have been the biggest victory in Mexico's history - even bigger than reaching the quarterfinals in 1970 and 1986 when the tournament was played in Mexico.

Street vendor Margarita Rojas stood a short walk away and was counting her lost pesos.

"This is bad for Mexico, but it is also bad for our business," said Rojas, selling soft drinks, flags and dozen of other red-white-and-green trinkets. "We would sell five times more - 10 times more - if we had won. I can try to be positive and say we know there will always be more big football games."

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