Soccer-Defiant Sanchez not quitting Mexico posts

MEXICO CITY, March 18 (Reuters) - Hugo Sanchez said he will not resign as coach of Mexico’s senior and under-23 squads after the unexpected failure to qualify for the Olympic Games.

“I’ve said it already, I’m not resigning,” Sanchez told a news conference at Mexico City airport on Tuesday after the under-23 team returned from the CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers in the United States.

“I’m sad, as are all Mexicans, and disappointed, because our dream was to take part at the Olympic Games,” he said.

“But for these players to mature, we have to experience failure and I’m sure that the ones who carry on from here will be stronger at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.”

The CONCACAF region has two places at the Olympics and qualifying for Beijing was seen as little more than a formality for Mexico.

However, they failed to reach even the semi-finals, finishing third behind Guatemala and Canada in their group and prompting calls for Sanchez to quit the senior team as well.

Sanchez, who before taking over as coach had persistently criticised his predecessor Ricardo La Volpe, called for more understanding.

“They want blood after two, three of four bad games,” he said.

“We have to be fairer, more flexible and more human. I’m 49 years old and I don’t know everything, they hired me to evaluate the players and the ones who were in this team, I considered to be the right ones.

“We failed, we have to accept it as such, take it as it is.....and show that we can come through it and then face the more demanding challenge, which is to qualify for the World Cup.

“I feel I have support, I felt it as a player and I have felt it as a coach and I will never quit knowing that, as a Mexican, all Mexicans are going to support me.”

Sanchez, widely regarded as the greatest player Mexico has produced, replaced La Volpe following the 2006 World Cup amid high expectations but results have been mixed. (Reporting by Carlos Calvo, writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Miles Evans)