Martino steps down as head of Mexico after elimination in the first phase of the World Cup

Mexico national team coach Tata Martino has accepted full responsibility for the team’s elimination in the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar and said he will not extend his contract with the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) after the Mexican national team lost the spot in the round of 16 on goal difference.

Mexico’s 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia proved insufficient as the Mexicans were knocked out of the tournament after finishing third behind Poland, paying the price for failing to score in their first two Group C games – a goalless draw with Poland and a 2–0 loss to Argentina.

With Argentina beating Poland 2-0 and Mexico leading by the same scoreline against Saudi Arabia, Martino’s side needed one more goal to avoid elimination on the tie-breaking criteria of fair play.

But Salem Al-Dawsari’s injury-time consolation goal meant Mexico’s fastest exit from a World Cup since 1978.

Martino took charge of the Mexico national team in January 2019 and was tasked with reaching the goal that had eluded them for more than three decades: the quarter-finals of the World Cup. They last reached this stage when they hosted the tournament in 1986.

The Central Americans had advanced to the knockout stages in their seven subsequent appearances in the competition, but have exited in the final 16 stages at every World Cup since 1994.

“I am responsible for this disappointment. It is a great sadness and I take full responsibility for this huge failure,” said Martino, whose contract was due to expire after Mexico’s World Cup campaign. “It’s been eight World Cups since this happened. My contract expired at the final whistle and there’s nothing left to do.” “During our game tonight, Mexico’s superiority was shown throughout the game. With Poland, we weren’t able to show the superiority we had. With Argentina, we could have faced the second half with our usual style,” he said.

Knowing that winning by at least a three-goal margin would give them a chance to advance, Mexico dominated their game against Saudi Arabia and looked to be on the right track after going 2-0 seven minutes into the second half thanks to to Henry Martin and Luis Chávez.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais made a series of excellent saves to thwart the Mexican attack, while Hirving Lozano and Uriel Antuna, who came off the bench, had their goals disallowed for offside as Martino’s side searched in vain for the third goal.

“That’s why we went looking for him and brought two strikers, it was necessary at that time because of the other result. We knew that Poland had fewer yellow cards,” said Martino. “We had already assessed that unless many players (from Poland) were booked, this result meant we were still out.” “But we failed and I don’t think we were eliminated in the previous matches, but today. This is the reality. We are in a fragile position because we are out of the World Cup”, he said.

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Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News