Compean: Mexican football has stagnated

MEXICO CITY - Mexican football has stagnated and recent failures at various age levels were the result of poor planning, the head of the country's soccer federation (FMF) said on Wednesday. "The results that we have had -- not qualifying for the Olympic Games and the World under-20 championship -- cannot be hidden," Justino Compean was quoted as saying on the FMF's website. "It's obvious that we have reached a period of stagnation and nobody can deny it. "In not getting results, we have failed in our planning. This is not a recent thing and it's our responsibility, which we are not going to shirk." Mexican football appeared to be improving significantly between the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. The national side under Ricardo La Volpe beat Argentina and Brazil in competitive internationals and reached the last 16 at the 2006 World Cup. Mexico won the world under-17 championship in Peru in 2005 and a number of promising young players emerged before being sold to European clubs. But the country's fortunes have gone downhill since, the under-23 team failing to qualify for the Olympic Games last year and the under-20 team missing out on this year's World Youth championship in Egypt. Many of the country's European-based players are in the reserves with their clubs. Hugo Sanchez was sacked last year as senior national team coach after 16 months and his replacement Sven-Goran Eriksson has also struggled, losing World Cup qualifiers in Jamaica and Honduras. Eriksson is widely expected to lose his job if Mexico fail to beat Costa Rica at home in Saturday's World Cup qualifier.