Soccer: Mexico revels in taking gold over rival Brazil
MEXICO CITY |
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexicans poured into public plazas around the country to celebrate their first major international soccer success after a 2-1 upset in the 2012 Olympic final over hot favorites Brazil, Latin America's soccer powerhouse.
Long used to disappointment on the soccer field, Mexico had been aching for a major title after watching a new generation of players clinch victory after victory in less prestigious tournaments.
"This is one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened to us," said Armando Mora, wrapped in a Mexico's green, white and red flag as he celebrated with his family in a restaurant in the capital.
Hundreds danced and shouted "Viva Mexico" around the Angel of the Independence monument in the center of Mexico City.
"Now this is worth celebrating. It is historic and unforgettable," said Marisela Mendoza, 30, with her three children in tow. "This was against Brazil, and that gives it so much more merit."
Mexico's rivalry with five-time World Cup winners Brazil goes beyond the soccer pitch. The two countries compete for foreign investment and have leapfrogged each other as Latin America's biggest economy in recent decades, with Brazil moving back on top in 2005.
Mexico's previous best Olympic performance was a fourth place finish at the 1968 Mexico Games and their best World Cup performances were in the two World Cups they hosted in 1970 and 1986, when they reached the quarter-finals.
But a new generation of players have been making their mark with Mexico's win earlier this year at the Toulon Tournament and a string of victories in 2011, including the Pan American Games championship and Mexico's second Under-17 World Cup title.
Mexico's gold medal in London could not have come at a better time for the country, which is in the middle of a bloody crackdown on drug cartels and still reeling from a polarizing presidential election in July.
"Hopefully it unites us and we stop fighting," Mora said.
Mario Juarez, 25, looked to more sporting success.
"We hope this winning streak continues and holds up for the World Cup," he said, joining the party at the Angel of Independence with his dog dressed in a Mexican flag.
(Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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