Roving thoughts and provocations

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¡Viva México!

Luca Bruno/AP Photo
Mexico’s Cuauhtémoc Blanco celebrating after scoring during the World Cup soccer match between France and Mexico at Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane, South Africa, June 17, 2010

Wasn’t that a good game! I think it may be the first time in history that Mexico actually has a real team, with three bright young players—Javier Hernández, Giovani Dos Santos, and Carlos Vela—who were on the team that won the under-17 World Cup in 2005. This bunch doesn’t seem to carry the weight of defeatism that has burdened previous teams in every single World Cup Mexico has qualified for, and they’re in top physical condition. By the end of the first half, they’d thoroughly tired out the panting French.

Javier Aguirre, the moody Mexican trainer, brought Hernández into the field in minute ten of the second half, and he scored a beautiful goal nine minutes later. And then aged, barrel-torsoed old Cuauhtémoc Blanco was trotted out in minute 17. He’s 37, and could stand to lose a dozen pounds or two. But he’s played three World Cups, and is as trustworthy as a dray horse. As divine intervention would have it, a foul by the French team allowed Aguirre to put Blanco in front of the ball for a penalty kick, and the tired old warrior, playing his last Cup, and perhaps even his last game, sent it jetting through the goal posts. Mexico-France, TWO-ZERO!

So we beat them twice, once in 1867 and once again, most satisfyingly, in Polokwane yesterday. Astonishingly, some of the fans from the land of Gaul showed up in full Versaillesque splendor, with great feathered Sun King hats. After Mexico’s second goal, the camera zeroed in on the grim-faced, ancien regime French. On the other side of Peter Mokaba stadium, the Mexicans chanted and roared in their bristling feathered head-dresses. Me-Xi-Co, Me-Xi-Co!

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