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Jorge Valdano: “Being in CONCACAF is Mexico’s problem”

The former Argentina star believes that Mexico’s development is stifled by the low level of competition in the CONCACAF zone.

Jorge Valdano

Jorge Valdano explained his theory on why Mexico are unable to asset their place among the top sides in world and believes that they will never progress while they belong to CONCACAF.

The former Argentina star recognized that Mexico’s failings are not down to a lack of talent, but rather that the national team is not able to develop and ascend a level because the standard of competition simply isn’t high enough.

The biggest problem is how easy it is to compete. Being in CONCACAF is Mexico’s big problem. You can’t learn how to handle severe difficulties on the training pitch. Difficulties have to be endured at first-hand - that’s the only way you can learn to live with them. Generally, the fifth game [at a World Cup] is full of difficulties - due to the pressure among other things. And Mexico has never gone through that. They are not used to those circumstances and the level of the rivals they meet in the Round of 16 is usually much higher. Their rivals are used to playing life-or-death matches and that gives them a totally different level of competitiveness,” Valdano said in an interview with Récord.

Basics often overlooked

Valdano added that in Mexican soccer, the fundamentals of the game are often overlooked and that is another of the factors that has contributed to stagnation of development.

Mexico has a great soccer culture, but the basic strengths of the team need to work better. Sooner or later, they are going to have to compete against sides from other zones, not just CONCACAF. The team need opportunities and Mexico have had problems playing friendlies in Europe. The 2024 Copa América could be a very good opportunity to work on the team, make it more competitive, and grow”, he pointed out.

Lack of goals, another issue

Mexico’s struggles to score at the Qatar World Cup highlighted another problem area which will need to be addressed, says Valdano. Tata Martino’s team didn’t make it past the group stage, scoring just two goals in three games - both in the same match, against Saudi Arabia.

When you’re under a lot of pressure, it’s hard to survive. There has to be a project. At the World Cup, it’s very important that the players are in their best moment of form, and Mexico, in attack, was very limited... and if the team isn’t scoring, things get very complicated very quickly”, he concluded.