The World Finally Sees What I See

Mexico completed its standard World Cup participation in Brazil, a Round of 16 exit. They played quality football and made the masses believe that it was possible to surpass the norm, and right at the moment of truth fail to come up with the result.

Some might say that the standard participation was great based on the terrible year ‘El Tri’ had in 2013. But to be honest, another Round of 16 exit to me is another four years thrown away. It really doesn’t matter how well you play if you cannot get the result you need.

But looking back at the whole tournament Mexico had, I am left with one and only one positive. The world has finally seen what I have seen in goalkeeper Francisco Guillermo Ochoa. The long and tiring goalkeeper debate is finally over. Memo Ochoa is now the undisputed starting goalkeeper like I have been asking for during the past four years.

The world now sees the great and outstanding goalkeeper that I have seen. That goalkeeper that can not only save the ball from going into the back of the net, but also save the team’s overall result.

There was a long stretch of time when Club America was not performing at its best. Stellar performances from Ochoa and Paraguayan striker Salvador Cabañas was all that the club had to pull out some results.

Between the two they led the worst version of Club America (finished dead last in the league table) to complete a miraculous comeback in the 2008 Copa Libertadores in what is called the Maracanazo II. America managed a 3-0 win in Brazil over Flamengo to overturn a first leg loss.

Memo has also overcome some big obstacles placed on him. He seemed the likely candidate to replace veteran goalkeeper Adolfo Rios at America, but Argentine manager Ramon Angel “Pelado” Diaz didn't have confidence in the young goalkeeper and he brought in Argentine shot-stopper Luis Saja. Ochoa patiently waited his turn and six months later after Diaz was fired, Ochoa went back into the starting lineup.

After having attended the 2006 World Cup as a third choice ‘keeper’ at the age of 19, it was assumed that 2010 was going to be his big moment to shine. But ONE costly mistake in a friendly match against North Korea in Torreon ended up being the deciding factor for emergency manager Javier Aguirre. He sat Ochoa in South Africa and played veteran goalkeeper Oscar Perez. This cost Ochoa the opportunity to shine for European clubs.

His long dreamt move to Europe would have to wait a few years because of the Aguirre decision. But when things looked all set for him to make the jump to a respectable French side, another (probably the biggest) stumbling block got thrown his way. While under camp with the National Team, who prepared to participate in the 2011 Gold Cup, Ochoa was given tainted meat along with several other teammates; he tested positive for the controlled substance Clenbuterol.

He was immediately dropped from the squad and ended up losing the possible contract with the French team. He was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing but the damage was done. He would have to settle for recently promoted French side Ajaccio, who in their over 100 year history would be participating in only their third season in the top league Ligue 1.

Week in and week out, Ochoa put up spectacular performances with his French club. The team lost a lot of games which did not help build Ochoa’s damaged reputation in Mexico. But his performances did single handedly save enough points for Ajaccio to prolong Ajaccio’s stay in the 1st division to three seasons.

I have witnessed how Ochoa can be the difference between a win and a draw, or a draw and a loss. I have known this for a while. Now after Mexico’s participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the rest of the world knows it too. This is the one and only positive thing from Mexico’s World Cup participation in Brazil 2014.


** artwork is used under Creative Commons license from Carlos Kubo

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