Sven not out of the woods just yet
Nine months later and Borgetti appears to have been spot on. Eriksson has failed to rid Mexico of its inferiority complex when facing its archrival, the U.S., and, with his team reaching the fourth and final CONCACAF qualifying phase for South Africa only on goal difference, the 61-year-old has appeared perplexed by some of the goings-on around him.
His latest blow was a 2-0 defeat to the U.S. last month in wet and windy Columbus, Ohio, a venue chosen by the North Americans because it has one of the lowest concentrations of Mexican immigrants in the country.
The loss increased concerns that Mexico might not qualify for the World Cup -- something that last happened in 1982 when El Salvador and Honduras represented the region. It was also the fifth time in a row that Mexico failed to beat the U.S. and its 11th successive game without an away win against its neighbors.
It was all too familiar for Mexico as it went down a goal from a set piece,
Eriksson later got the dreaded vote of confidence from the national-team committee, which is headed by Chivas de Guadalajara owner
"Sven cannot have his head on a guillotine," said
The current batch of qualifiers -- at home to Costa Rica (which Mexico won 2-0 on Saturday to ease some pressure on Eriksson) and away on Wednesday to Honduras, which has already beaten Mexico in an earlier stage of the competition -- is now vital. Failure could prompt the federation to change its mind -- a choice it might find more tempting now that former national-team coach
Mexico made a good enough start under Eriksson, reeling off home victories against Honduras, Jamaica and Canada in its early qualifiers. But things went wrong on its travels. It was out-muscled by Jamaica in Kingston, held 2-2 by Canada in Edmonton and beaten 1-0 by Honduras in San Pedro Sula. Friendly defeats against Chile and Sweden have only worsened the situation.
It must be pointed out, however, that the Mexican national team is not an easy place to work. The federation is highly influenced by the Televisa and Azteca television networks, but there are also other interests at work.
"There will be ghosts who will try and bring him down," warned the respected columnist
The Swede has also found himself in the middle of the row over naturalized players that came to a head when he picked four "foreigners" in his squad for a friendly against Sweden in February, calling up Argentina-born
A bemused Eriksson replied: "I think that if they have quality and a Mexican passport, they have to be in the Mexican national team. Nobody told me this was prohibited. It's a little bit difficult for me to understand all this. If I don't select Vuoso or Naelson, they criticize me; if I pick Lucas Ayala, they criticize me."
Eriksson was equally baffled to find himself under fire for leaving out
"I find it a little strange that a player says one day that he doesn't want to play in the national team for a number of reasons, then tells the media that he's available," Eriksson said.
If that is not enough, Eriksson has found himself short of international-class players and, against the U.S., he was forced to call up several forwards --
South Africa, it seems, is a very long way away.