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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK

Mexico punch their weight

By James Blears
BBC Sport Online in Mexico City

Mexico's 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening World Cup match has come about because of a revolution in their mental approach to football.

That is the view of Jose Sulaiman, president of the Mexico City World Boxing Council, a knowledgeable football pundit and a former president of second division team Cueiudos.

As a result, "Don Jose" believes Mexican football is "poised for a new dawn".

But despite the efforts of Cuauhtemoc Blanco et al on the pitch, Sulaiman gives the lion's share of the credit to coach Javier Aguirre.

"Aguirre's really motivated the national side," Sulaiman told BBC Sport Online.

Aguirre's organistaion is key to Mexico's hopes

"The national team have finally overcome their Achilles heel - a lack of discipline.

"Aguirre did not take any player who did not give 100% in training and he's had a profound mental impact on the players showing them they must think, act and play as a team.

"You can see the players are all coming out to win and Aguirre's instilled the Alexander Dumas motto of the "Four Musketeers" in them: 'All for one and one for all'.

"In the past, in any number of sports, Mexicans have not been very disciplined as a group.

"When team members have gone to training they have been waiting for it to end, so they can go to the movies or a disco. That was the reality.

"Individuals like boxers or marathon runners are different, because they have personal goals. But in team sports things are changing - and for the better.

"The players have coordination, purpose and are following a game plan. They are playing like a prestigious team. Gone are the days of the crazy runs and occasional shots."

Sulaiman will stay glued to the football despite heading to Tennessee to watch the World Heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.

And he believes that Aguirre's men will give him even more to cheer.

"I'm positive that Mexico will qualify for the next phase," he added.

"They played with the hearts of Mexican boxers and with the discipline of great champions against Croatia.

"If they continue in this vein they will surprise the world."


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