The morning after Mexico‘s unfathomable loss in Estadio Azteca to Honduras in a 2014 World Cup Qualifying match, Mexican coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” is out of a job.
He’s been on the hot seat for months as the Mexican team has been mediocre at best throughout qualifying, but a home loss that puts Mexico in deep trouble as far as qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil goes was the last straw.
It was Mexico’s first loss in seven games during the final Hexagonal of CONCACAF qualifying, but after seven games, they have just eight points and sit in fourth place with three games left to play. A fourth-place finish would not guarantee them a spot in the World Cup; it would force them into a playoff with Oceania champion New Zealand.
The surprising thing isn’t that Chepo was fired, but that it took so long for it to happen. He just as easily could have been let go after Mexico’s disappointing effort through the first six Hexagonal matches, winning only one and drawing five. Mexico’s failure to even reach the finals of the 2013 Gold Cup was also a firable offense, especially since Mexico continued to struggle to score goals.
A friendly win last month over the Ivory Coast was apparently enough to give him one more game, but a loss at home to anyone is intolerable for Mexico and its fans.
Taking over for Mexico on an interim basis will be Luis Fernando Tena, who must quickly refocus the Mexican team for a qualifier on Tuesday in Columbus against the U.S.
Mexico is approaching must-win territory whether they’re at home or on the road, but that will be difficult for a team that has scored four goals in seven Hexagonal matches and is about to take on its biggest rival.
The firing of Chepo was an obvious move, and he will undoubtedly be the scapegoat if Mexico doesn’t qualify. However, they have three games left without him, and the team must find a way to forget about Chepo, refocus and turn things around in order clinch a spot in next summer’s World Cup.