Ulises Rivas heads the ball during Mexico's 2-0 win over Italy in a FIFA U-17 World Cup Round of 16 match at Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium on October 28, 2013, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
ABU DHABI, UAE – Mexico is in the FIFA U-17 World Cup’s quarterfinals and will work on improving even further in advance of its next match Friday against Brazil.
Following Monday’s 2-0 win over Italy in the Round of 16, head coach Raul Gutierrez spoke about the game and the need for his team to continue working hard.
“I am happy, it is a win in which the players worked the whole match and I think about the framework and that we have to think about continuing to improve,” said Gutiérrez.
He did not hesitate to praise his squad for their winning mentality against the Italians, who had conceded only two goals in their three group games.
“They played with a spirit that you have to play with in a Round of 16,” added the former Club America defender. “They put forth the effort, they tried to do things well and I think that got their deserved reward.”
After allowing six goals in their first group stage match against Nigeria, the Mexican defense has bounced back with three straight solid efforts.
“They have responded, I think after that first tough test, our team has grown, has matured and, of course, I am happy with them,” Gutiérrez declared.
Now, Mexico will place its focus on Brazil, a team that has raced through the competition with a perfect 4-0-0 record and a +15 goal difference. Gutierrez believes that effort and concentration will keep the Tricolor on the right track.
“I respect all the teams and first, matches have to be won,” he noted. “After each match, it is different and we should prepare for it in accordance with our next opponent. Then I think when you win it always makes it easier to correct things and be 100% competitive.”
In a quest for a second consecutive U-17 crown, Mexico has been more than competitive. It is championship material.