Mexico pledge to repay `pawn-shop` Aztec fans

Last Updated: Saturday, June 14, 2014 - 09:41

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera pledged to repay his country`s fans who he said would "sell their houses, cars and even pawn their grandma`s clothes to come to Brazil" by battling to keep their World Cup dream alive.

Herrera`s side outclassed Cameroon at a rain-drenched Estadio das Dunas on Friday thanks to a second-half winner by Oribe Peralta.

Cameroon, who limped home from South Africa four years ago without a point from their three games, face a repeat if they fail to beat Croatia next week before their final group clash against Brazil on June 23.

The Aztecs face the hosts, 3-1 winners over Croatia on Thursday, in nearby Fortaleza on June 17, but an opening day win means Mexico could afford to slip up and still grab one of the top two qualifying places.

Herrera, who has boldly declared Mexico`s intention of going all the way to the final and "making history" -- their best result is making the quarter-finals -- said he was "ecstatic" about his players` performance.

Part of it, he said, was down to the sizeable Mexican support which he said will be repaid by battling performances from now on.

"The Mexico fans were unbelievable and I think there are going to be thousands of them in all the stadiums throughout," said Herrera.

"They`ve done the impossible just to come to Brazil to support us, selling their houses, cars and even pawning their grandmother`s clothes!

"They made us feel like we were playing at the Azteca (stadium, in Mexico City). We want to repay them for their efforts."

He added: "There are tough matches ahead, but we`re a well-organsied team, we`re in sync with each other and I give thanks every day that I`m at the helm of this incredible squad.

"The lads will leave everything out on the pitch, every drop of sweat, to get the results we want."

Herrera admitted meeting the hosts will be a different challenge altogether.

"It will be different. Cameroon are not Brazil, Brazil are the hosts and a big favourite," he added.

"As soon as we leave the stadium we`ll have the whole country against us, but we have to have the same attitude as we did today."

Peralta pounced on the rebound from a Giovani Dos Santos shot in the 61st minute to score the only goal on Friday, but Mexico should have had two goals by then after two strikes by Dos Santos were ruled out for offsides which replays suggested did not exist.

Dos Santos, who has family in Brazil, won the man of the match award and said: "The coach told us that whatever happens, we have to keep our heads up. The team showed maturity despite the fact we had two goals disallowed. That`s a big positive for us."

Volker Finke, the German coach of a Cameroon side whose pre-World Cup was marred by a bitter row over player bonuses, deftly sidestepped the issue of refereeing decisions.

But he conceded Cameroon`s backs are to the wall.

"Now we`ve got five days before our next match, which will already be decisive for our World Cup," he said.

If Cameroon fail to beat Croatia, their June 23 clash against Brazil in Brasilia could be a dead rubber, a prospect Benjamin Moukandjo does not even want to consider.

"You don`t have to remind me!" he said. "We absolutely have to beat Croatia to have any chance (of staying in the competition)."

He painted a gloomy picture for fans of the side that the legendary Roger Milla led to the quarter-finals in 1990 amid what was a golden footballing period for the central African nation.

"We`ve got two big matches left and if we`re going to make the last 16 we`ll have to win both."

AFP

First Published: Saturday, June 14, 2014 - 09:41

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