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Guillermo Ochoa targeted by Mexico’s boo boys: why?

Mexico fans jeered goalkeeper Ochoa in El Tri’s unconvincing draw with Jamaica in the CONCACAF Nations League on Sunday.

Mexico fans jeered goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in El Tri’s unconvincing draw with Jamaica in the CONCACAF Nations League on Sunday.

Guillermo Ochoa’s career with Mexico hasn’t been a completely smooth ride. Since making his debut in 2005, the goalkeeper has set several national-team records and has delivered star performances at World Cups - but none of that has spared him from enduring bitter moments with El Tri.

Mexican fans boo Ochoa in Jamaica stalemate

In Mexico’s CONCACAF Nations League draw with Jamaica on Sunday, Ochoa was heavily jeered by the home fans at the Estadio Azteca, a stadium where the former América stopper played his club soccer for many years. The boos directed at the 37-year-old appear to be a symptom of deeper issues within the structure of the Mexican game and the management of the country’s national side.

Goalkeeper a victim of his own longevity

Unfortunately for Ochoa, his nearly two decades as a Mexico player look to be working against him: he has become the most visible face of a cumulation of disappointments over recent years, such as the team’s 7-0 defeat to Chile at the 2016 Copa América, and its early exit from the World Cup in Qatar. It’s at least partly because of this that sections of the Mexican support and media are urging the new head coach, Diego Cocca, to look to the future by replacing Ochoa with 26-year-old Santos Laguna keeper Carlos Acevedo.

Shining for Salernitana

At the start of the year, when Ochoa was taking his first steps in Italian soccer after joining Salernitana, he won his new club’s ‘player of the month’ award for January. Although Salernitana are one of the weakest sides in Serie A, the Mexican has delivered consistently high-quality performances for the Granata. Earlier this month, he helped his side to a 1-1 league draw with AC Milan, the defending champions.

It’s also worth noting that Ochoa reported for March international duty having conceded just three times for his club since being named in Cocca’s first squad as Mexico boss. Acevedo let in eight in the same period at Santos, as did the third-choice keeper, Tijuana’s Antonio Rodríguez. That didn’t matter to Mexico’s always demanding fans, though.