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Hernandez thanks Russian fans for support, says Mexico now focused on 3rd place playoff

30 Jun, 2017 17:29
Hernandez thanks Russian fans for support, says Mexico now focused on 3rd place playoff
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/ Reuters

Mexico striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez says his team must focus on their 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup third place playoff versus Portugal on Sunday, following their semifinal defeat to Germany.

All-time record goalscorer for Mexico, Hernandez says the 4-1 drubbing to Germany in Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi on Thursday was “disappointing,” but believes the chance to finish third in the tournament is a positive.

“We’re very sad, disappointed, but we need to look on the bright side. We have another opportunity to win the third place and then we’re going to try to take it against the European champions,” Hernandez said following the game.

Hernandez failed to get on the scoresheet in Sochi. Instead, two goals from Leon Goretzka inside eight minutes, then from Timo Werner and Amin Younes were enough for Germany to sail through to Sunday’s final. Marco Fabian grabbed a late, long-range consolation for ‘El Tri’.

Germany now face Chile at St. Petersburg Stadium. La Roja booked their place in the final by defeating Portugal on penalties in the other semifinal in Kazan Arena on Wednesday night.

Hernandez couldn’t put his finger on what went wrong for Mexico, who have become a fan favorite over the course of the tournament thanks to their exotic support and exciting brand of football.

“Right now I think it’s too fresh, right now is not the moment to speak about that. We lost this match, we’re sad, very disappointed. We start from this night and tomorrow try to improve thinking about this tournament. This tournament has not ended and then later we will speak about that,” the Bayer Leverkusen player said.

Mexico arrived in Russia with around 20,000 of their own supporters in tow, and have gained many more in the shape of support from local football fans - despite being drawn in a group with Russia - thanks to their matches with colorful flags, tifos and costumes, including traditional Mexican wrestling masks.

Hernandez claimed it was no surprise his side found favor among the Russian fans, as their support has been felt throughout the tournament and expressed his thanks to those who had cheered for Mexico, even though it might have been against the best interests of their own team.

“It’s not really a surprise because they support us since the beginning as well with Portugal we felt it, and then against Russia obviously they were the locals,” Hernandez said.

“And then against New Zealand as well in this stadium they came and they support us and we are happy with them and with the Mexican people as well.”

Mexico advanced to the semifinals by virtue of a 2-1 win against hosts Russia in Kazan Arena. That result meant Russia became the first Confederations Cup host nation to not advance to at least the semifinal stage in the tournament’s current format.

Despite a disappointing performance, Hernandez believes Russia gave a good account of themselves in their home tournament, which will provide a gauge for the team’s ambitions at the World Cup next year.

“They were here, they made a very difficult group against us, New Zealand and Portugal,” Hernandez said.

“Hopefully a lot of Russian players will be playing in the best clubs in Europe,” he added.