In the continued series of posts about the 4 semi-finalists in my Mea Copa replay of the 1986 World Cup played in Mexico, today I highlight the hosts, and the most inspiring of Semi-Finalists, the Mexican National Team.
Note: For more information about Mea Copa,which is the dice-based game that I am using to play this tournament, please refer to this post.
Between May 28, 1985 and April 30, 1986, Mexico City was hit with a series of earthquakes. The most devastating was a magnitude 8.0 quake that struck at 7:18am on the morning of September 19, 1985.
To this day, the number of human casualties is in dispute, but it is generally agreed that at least 10,000 died in the September quake, probably as many as 40,000 total.
Hundreds of thousands were without homes. Infrastructure was severely affected. Baseball stadiums were used as morgues to hold corpses until they could be identified.
In October 1985, as the nation was literally just beginning to rise from the rubble, FIFA President Joao Havelange visited Mexico and refused to confirm whether or not the 1986 World Cup would be played in Mexico as planned.
But with the world watching, the people of Mexico rallied to bring the tournament to life on time.
The Mexican team had been playing together as a squad for two years in preparation for the World Cup; that is, all except for their star – Real Madrid’s million-dollar man, Mexican superstar Hugo Sanchez. This article, published on the eve of the opening ceremonies, provides a great explanation of what the squad had been through in preparing for the tournament.
Despite all odds, and despite Hugo Sanchez’s sub-par performance, the Mexico team played very well in the tournament. They were defeated on penalty kicks in the Quarterfinals by the eventual runners-up, West Germany, after 120 minutes of scoreless play. It was a disappointing end for the squad, but a valiant effort and a victory for the rebuilding nation.
In this Mea Copa replay, Morocco’s thrilling 3-2 victory over West Germany in the Round of 16 ensured that history would not repeat itself, but Mexico disposed of the African side and now faces Brazil with a trip to the final at stake.
On paper, Brazil will be the favorite, but Mexico’s travails will make the hosts the sentimental favorite around the world. We’ll see how it plays out!