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Tata Martino leaves the Mexican Soccer Team after Qatar World Cup

Argentinian Coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino stated “My contract ended as soon as the referee blew the final whistle and there is nothing more to be done” in reference to the Mexico 2022 Qatar World Cup game. Photo courtesy of Rubén Ortega Vega / Openverse.

Even before the Mexican National Soccer Team was eliminated from the 2022 Qatar World Cup in the group stage, rumors and speculation of the departure of Argentinian Coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino ran wild. This was the first time Mexico was eliminated in the group stage since the 1978 Argentina World Cup. 

Prior to the tournament’s commencement, Martino received major criticism for the roster he decided to send to Qatar. The must-haves like forward Hirving Lozano, midfielder Alexis Vega and defender Kevin Alvarez were on the final 26-man roster. The players that raised many eyebrows were veterans like goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, midfielder Hector Herrera and midfielder Raul Jimenez. These players in a vacuum have provided great opportunities for the team in the past. Ochoa has played for Mexico since 2005, Herrera since 2012 and Jimenez since 2013. 

After the 2018 Russia World Cup, former Coach Juan Carlos Osorio left in 2018, the higher-ups for the Mexican Soccer association filled the position with Martino. The former Argentinian soccer player and Atlanta United manager stirred up debate. Mexico has not had a Mexican national in charge of the team since Miguel “El Piojo” Herrera as Osorio was Colombian. 

Martino led the team to a win in the finals of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup in a 1-0 match against the U.S. men’s team. Martino failed to build off that momentum after losing both the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Nations League in 2021 to the U.S. In a friendly match prior to the 2022 World Cup, Mexico lost big games against Sweden and Colombia in preparation for Qatar. The red flags were flying well before the team’s first match against Poland. 

At the 2022 World Cup, Mexico struggled to attack the goal in both games against Poland and Argentina. In those games, Mexico only had four shots on goal. In the draw versus Poland, Ochoa proved his worth after blocking a penalty kick from LaLiga’s top striker Robert Lewandowski. Despite the save, the Mexican offensive drive lacked power against Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. Martino also made a baffling personnel change in the eighty-third minute of the match when he substituted Vega in favor of midfielder Uriel Antuna. Vega managed to drive the ball downfield on several occasions during the match. Mexico would draw with Poland, 0-0. 

Against Argentina, Martino coach what could be argued his worst game. Martino’s opened in a 5-3-2 to account for the Argentinian attack, which included forward Lionel Messi. It became clear early on that the unconventional formation was not working, but Martino refused to change the line. With Vega and Lozano fending for themselves against four separate defenders, no legitimate attack came to be. In a shocking rotation, both Vega and Lozano, the team’s top scorers, sat in minutes 65 and 72 respectively. In place of the stricking duo, Martino sent in Antuna and midfielder Roberto Alvarado. The final nail in the coffin for Mexico was the substitution of midfielder Andres Guardado for Erick Gutierrez. Gutierrez would go on to miss an assignment that led to Messi’s goal in minute 64. Argentina would go onto score in the eighty-seventh minute to secure the 2-0 win. 

Mexico would go on to beat Saudia Arabia in the final game of the group stage, but it was a little too late as Poland and Argentina secured its place into the second round of the World Cup. Martino announced his departure after the elimination game. 

“I am the first responsible for this terrible disappointment and frustration that we have,” Martino said. “As the person in charge, it causes a lot of sadness, I fully assume responsibility for this great failure. My contract ended as soon as the referee blew the final whistle and there is nothing more to be done.” 

A replacement for Martino has yet to be announced, but that has not stopped the media and fans from speculating. A big name that has been mentioned for some time in Miguel Herrera. Herrera was let go from the Mexican Soccer Federation in 2015 after an incident evolving him and a journalist after his Gold Cup victory. Ironically enough, Herrea has since become a commentator for Telemundo Deportes. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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Tata Martino leaves the Mexican Soccer Team after Qatar World Cup