By Gerardo Martínez Gómez
Mexico has qualified for the World Cup five consecutive times and always exited in the second round. Now it's Jose Manuel de la Torre's turn to end that frustration.
The man who has won three Mexican league titles first with Chivas de Guadalajara and now Toluca will have the task of getting Mexico to the "fifth" game of a World Cup.
"The object is to qualify to Brazil," the 44-year-old known as "Chepo" said when introduced Monday night. "We want to see ourselves seated in the World Cup in Brazil and that's what we are going for. There are mid-term goals and we have to work toward them.
Of course it's important what we do well in the Gold Cup as it will give us the ticket to the Confederations Cup. There is also the Olympics and all other competitions that the national team will take on.
"If you don't qualify, you can't reach the fifth game, so the first objective is to reach the World Cup and then aspire to more. We are committed to achieve the best results because no one works hard just to get there. We are going to prepare to to do the best job posible and the responsibility isn't just mine, it belongs to all who work together with national team to take the next step that we want."
De la Torre's appointment comes after a tumultuous post-World Cup period: two interim coaches, fines or suspensions for 13 players amid a player revolt and the resignation of his brother Nestor as the Mexican Football Federation's director of national teams.
The decision to replace Javier Aguirre - who resigned following the World Cup -- reportedly had been narrowed to De la Torre and Monterrey manager Victor Manuel Vucetich, who withdrew his name from consideration on Saturday.
After meeting for several hours Sunday at the FMF's headquarters, first-division club owners decided on De la Torre, signing him to a 3½-year contract that will allow him to stay at Toluca through the remainder of the Apertura season and have him on the bench through the 2014 World Cup.
De la Torre was presented by FMF President Justino Compeán and General Secretary Decio De María, appearing in a white Mexico jacket and green team hat.
One of the first announcements of the De la Torre era detailed Mexico's involvement next year's Copa America. The under-23 team -- along with several over-age reinforcements, and the same team that will compete in the Pan-American Games, will not be coached by De la Torre but rather by his assistant, most likely Sergio Lugo, his chief aid at Toluca.
De la Torre avoided directly addressing last month's player revolt, one in which 13 players wrote to the federation to complain about Nestor de la Torre, but said he will speak to those and all players that wish to be national team members.
"The contact with the players will begin when I take control of the team and we will talk about things the way they are. You need to let time pass," he said. "
We will make it clear to all that we need to be on the same page. Time will come for that contact, and to be able to speak to them in order to come together for the goal we have before us. The telephone is cold. It's important to have that relationship, speak face-to-face , know each other and what one thinks because that way you have a better environment and work better. There's no doubt that I will be in contact with the people that I am going to call up, wherever they may be."
Besides selecting De la Torre, the board of club owners disolved its national team commitee that was comprised of Jorge Vergara (Guadalajara), Víctor Mahbub (Pumas), Carlos Martín Del Campo (Atlas), Carlos Leaño (Estudiantes) and Gustavo Guzmán (Jaguares). The decision was made, it was announced, to allow the owners, have a better and more direct relationship between the team and the owners.
It was also announced that Nestor de la Torre's replacement will be announced in three weeks, hopefully by a former player, a criterion that would eliminated rumored candidates such as America vice president Yon de Luis and Tigres VP Héctor González Inárritu.