Giant-killers Mexico embrace sudden weight of expectation
As they prepare to take on South Korea in Rostov-on-Don, Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio and his captain Andres Guardado are adamant the team will not be guilty of complacency after opening their World Cup campaign with a surprise win over holders Germany.
Hirving Lozano's goal in the 35th minute of the Group F game in Moscow left the 2014 champions stunned, and unexpectedly propelled El Tri into the tournament's spotlight.
Up next is a meeting with a South Korea team who lost their first match 1-0 to Sweden, leaving Shin Tae-yong and his players in urgent need of a positive result to revive their hopes of progressing.
Osorio, though, is well aware of the risk facing his players as they assume the mantle of favourites at Rostov Arena.
"This week we made sure that we all understand the responsibility and that is to play up to the high expectations that everyone has of Mexico now, that's a great challenge and we're ready for it," he told a news conference.
Guardado echoed the thoughts of his coach, saying: "In my view it's true that our victory against Germany has given us perhaps a greater degree of responsibility and we have to keep playing as well as we did and we have to have the same mindset as well.
"[We have] three very valuable points but that doesn't mean we're through to the round of 16. We cannot relax and sit back. We can't think of a victory over Germany as having more value.
"It will serve no purpose unless we go onto the pitch with the same attitude as we did before the match against them."
Ya estamos en Rostov Arena listos para reconocer la cancha donde jugaremos mañana ante
— Selección Nacional (@miseleccionmx) June 22, 2018
Mexico have been held up as a standard-bearer in certain quarters after some of the traditional heavyweights struggled to convince in their opening matches, but Osorio knows plenty more challenges lie ahead for his team in the tournament.
He said: "Well, I think as a group, we admire Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina because [of their] quality, the way they play football.
"I hope we don't rest on our laurels and tomorrow will be another great game for us, highly competitive, hopefully we can play entertaining football and gain a lot of fans around the world.
"We're trying to represent Latin American football and attract fans to our team… We've discussed that we can't forget to do the right things, that allowed us to take the top spot in CONCACAF [qualifying] and play that excellent game against Germany."