Aguirre aims to make sweet 16

JOHANNESBURG - Mexico coach Javier Aguirre cut a morose figure ahead of the last 16 World Cup clash with Argentina on Sunday, hitting out at "analysts" who say his team have no chance.

"I have no message for those that do not like me," he said inside Soccer City on Saturday, wearing a peaked cap to cover his eyes and barely lifting his gaze to acknowledge the media room.

"I think what they have been writing lately in Mexico is not justified. We're working to change the course of history," he added in reference to Mexico's poor record at the World Cup.

The Latin Americans possess fervent support and have always had talented players but have only twice reached the quarter-finals, in 1970 and 1986 when they were hosts.

Faced with a red-hot Argentina, Aguirre's men are again likely to fall at their traditional stumbling block, the first knockout round where they have exited at the past four tournaments.

"Mexico are nobodies' favourite. We're way down in the betting," he mumbled.

"Analysts say we're dead and gone."

The only smile Aguirre afforded was when he was asked about Argentina coach Diego Maradona, whom the former Mexico international and Atletico Madrid coach knows well.

"He's a great friend. We used to see each other in Madrid and I will give him a big hug and congratulate him for what he has done so far at this World Cup."

Maradona famously led his country to World Cup glory in 1986 as captain, in contrast to Aguirre who was sent off in the quarter-final against West Germany.

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