Mea Copa – 1986 World Cup Semi-Finals


The crowd at Estadio Azteca that day was 96,000 strong and pulsing as they exalted in the glorious spectacle of sport about to unfold before them.

It must have been both terrifying and exhilarating for the men on the pitch.  They played the match as if lives depended upon it, and for all we know, some did.  Impassioned as they were, for the next 97 minutes Brazil and Mexico would fight valiantly.

For Brazil, however, it was not their day.

Mexico, the home side, were enchanted and elevated by their supporters, and from the opening whistle they played masterfully, as though possessed by archangels.

Only 6 minutes into the match, Fernando Quirarte scored his 5th goal of the tournament for the Mexican nation.  Improbably, the central defender Quirarte scored 2 goals against Morocco to put Mexico in this semi-final match.  Now, with this goal, Quirarte, aka “El Sheriff“, will be a legend.

Inside the walls of the coliseum there was a great shaking amid the cacophony of joyous celebration, as if that very Earth below the pitch, so recently ruptured by tectonic violence, was healing herself with laughter, beguiled by her resilient and supernaturally ambitious inhabitants.

The Brasileiros, to their credit, never said die.  They played beautiful and inspiring football; made one-touch passes, back-heels, sent through balls with eyes and turned creative flourishes to mesmerize even the neophytes who may have been watching the ebb and flow of this game from televisions around the globe.

But it wasn’t a contest of offense.  In the end, Mexico had only 6 total chances and their defense held Brazil’s brilliant offense to just 7 – all but one of them – one fateful roll – in the second half.

At the end of the first half, in injury time, Brazil had an opportunity to tie the match with one 5% chance on goal.  They rolled 06 – a wide open shot that bounded off the crossbar.

In Mexico City, the thin air of altitude will make some weary.  The smog will choke the healthiest lungs.  Brave, valorous men can break down, can fail due only to their misfortune of having been dropped imperfectly onto this tiny rock somewhere alone in the vast reaches of the universe.

Neither side deserved to lose this semi-final match, either side would have deserved the win.  The honor this time will go to the hosts, by virtue of a 1-0 score.

Spain and Mexico will vie for the title of “los Campeones del Mundo” in the 1986 World Cup Final.


For more information on the Mea Copa game and this replay of the 1986 World Cup, click here.
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