AP

Mexico turns to new national team soccer coach Diego Cocca

Feb 9, 2023, 10:42 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2023, 12:58 pm

Diego Cocca is presented as Mexico's national soccer team new coach at a news conference in Mexico ...

Diego Cocca is presented as Mexico's national soccer team new coach at a news conference in Mexico City, Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Diego Cocca will have his work cut out as Mexico’s new national soccer team coach, after Mexico failed to make it out of the group stage at the 2022 World Cup.

It was the first time Mexico hadn’t advanced to the round of 16 since 1978.

But the Argentine coach has a reputation for breaking losing streaks. Cocca, 50, was presented Friday as the new national coach, replacing Gerardo “Tata” Martino.

Some had been pulling for Miguel Herrera or Uruguayan Guillermo Almada to take over the helm. But Cocca was the coach who helped Mexico’s first-division Atlas team win its first domestic championship in 70 years.

“I believe a lot in Mexican soccer players and their talent,” Cocca said. “But talent is not enough, you have to give them a whole lot of tools so they can take off, and that is my goal, I want to make them take off.”

“I want it to be a winning team and to be able to face whatever is thrown at it,” he said of the national team. “They sky is the limit.”

Cocca has something that Martinez may have lacked: a deep connection and experience with Mexican soccer.

Cocca played for Atlas, Veracruz and Querétaro in the Mexican league and has coached Atlas, Santos, Tijuana and, during a brief stint, the Tigres of Nuevo Leon.

Cocca has his sights set firmly on doing better in the 2026 World Cup, which is to be held jointly in North America. Mexico hopes to have something of a home field advantage.

“It is beautiful to dream of going to a World Cup and having happy people and filling stadiums, and even more so because it is going to held here,” he said.

The director of Mexico’s national teams, Jaime Ordiales, said the choice was the right one.

“The analysis that we came to was that it isn’t enough to debut players, rather you have to consolidate them to win,” Ordiales said.

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Mexico turns to new national team soccer coach Diego Cocca