The FIFA World Cup has thrown up some curious streaks and phenomena since its inauguration in 1930 and this article looks at one.
The world cup is a week out and we’re in no doubt swaddled in the tantalizing prospect of watching once again some of the world’s finest performers take to the world’s grandest stage. Without much ado let’s home in on one subtle and mysterious streak that could almost certainly reach football fans’ notice as the next World Cup progresses.
Did you know that Mexico has appeared in 16 World Cups – and of the 16 times they have appeared at the World Cup, 9 times have they made it to the knockout phase and no country has knocked them out and gone on to win the World Cup?
Check out some of the countries that have knocked Mexico out and failed to win the World Cup:
1970 : World Cup set in Mexico. Italy drabbed Mexico 4-1 in the quarter final stage but lost by the same scoreline to Brazil in the final.
1986: Mexico hosted the World Cup once again after Columbia failed to host it due to economic reasons.
Mexico beat Bulgaria 2–0 and forged ahead to the quarter-finals stage. There they lost to West Germany 4-1 in a penalty shootout after a tie in regulation time. West Germany went on to lose the final against a Maradona-led Argentina 3-2.
1994 : Again in North America this time the United States. Mexico summited a group including Italy, the Republic of Ireland and Norway after all four teams were tied on 4 points. The El Tricolor lost in the Round of 16 to a highly impressive Bulgarian side, falling once more as a result of penalty kicks. Bulgaria went on to knock out the then defending champions Germany but were taken down by Italy in the semis 2-1.
1998 : France hosted it. Mexico squeaked through the preliminary challenges of the Netherlands, Belgium and South Korea but fell at Germany’s hurdle in the round of 16. Strangely, Germany bowed out of the tournament at the quarter final stage, going down 3-0 to then novices Croatia.
2002: Japan and South Korea. Call it the boon of the 4th game, once again Mexico was at their usual best in the group phase. Drawing 1-1 with Italy, the North American powerhouse went on to sweep aside Ecuador and Croatia to crest the group. Quite inexplicably, El Tricolor fell to their fellow North Americans the USA 2-0. The USA almost as if cresting on the wave of their round of 16 landmark win, courageously offered Germany one of their games of the tournament, with the Americans losing 1-0 in a game that could have gone to penalty shootouts had then been a VAR era.
2006: Germany hosted it. Mexico Rose above the initial threats of Angola and Iran to finish 2nd to Portugal. In the round of 16 they were unfortunately yet dramatically knocked out by perhaps an even more unfortunate Argentina side 2-1. One of the finest Argentina sides I have ever seen could not shake off this Mexico hoodoo when they met host nation Germany in the quarter finals. Racing into the lead in a taut game, Argentina conceded their advantage near the end of the match to a Miroslav Klose goal, going on to lose on penalties.
2010: Hosted in South Africa. Mexico quickly warded off the threats of France and the host nation to finish second to Uruguay in Group A and set up a repeat of the 2006 thriller In the round of 16 with Coach Diego Armando Maradona’s Argentina. Argentina however won this by a slightly uncompetitive margin 3-1. Argentina’s dream of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1986 took an embarrassing hit and consequently a terminus when they were drabbed 4-0 by Germany at the quarter final stage. The Mexico jinx had known another length to its dimension, Argentina once again its victim.
2014: Held in Brazil. Mexico were sheltered in Group A together with Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon. Mexico graduated from this seemingly tough group. In the round of 16 game the Netherlands where the ones that found themselves in this ill-luck of playing Mexico in the knockout phase. The Mexicans led until the final minutes when they collapsed rather enigmatically to an 88th minute Wesley sneijder volley and a 94th minute Klass Jan Huntelaar penalty. The Netherlands looked to have dusted themselves of this hoodoo when after an unexpected tough game with Costa Rica – knocked them out on penalties to pit themselves against Argentina in the semifinals, a repeat of the 1998 quarterfinal game in France. The Dutch were observably out of luck in an Argentina game where Arjen Robben registered what has surely gone down for my money, as one of the biggest misses in World Cup football. Argentina progressed after penalty shootout. Snapping the Dutch out of the beautiful dream of reaching the final and playing their prime rivals Germany.
2018: Russia, the setting. In Russia Mexico caused one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, beating then defending champions Germany 2-1. In a group comprising of Sweden, Germany, Mexico and South Korea, no football fan would have mustered the daring of wagering against a Germany progress. Mexico advanced with Sweden and were quickly knocked out by Brazil. Brazil failed at the next challenge, falling rather curiously to Belgium in the quarter finals.
No country has knocked out Mexico and gone on to win the World Cup. This weird spectre will loom large on Qatar later this month when the knockout stage rolls out its fixtures. Sure enough jinxes are there to be broken and would surely be done sooner or later. France, the likeliest team to play Mexico in the round of 16 will hope to snap this grotesque tendency.
Mexico is a particularly superstitious World Cup country; they rumour they were cursed after the 1986 world cup on home soil to never play less or more than 4 games at the World Cup, infamously known as The Curse of the 5th Game, a supposed imprecation that could reach its 8th World Cup in Qatar.
Source: Nana Kweku Bosomtwi
Email address: [email protected]