Remembering the Puma Command: when El Tri was represented by a university-based team

The squad was made up of 14 blue-blue players and six reinforcements (Photo: Special)
The squad was made up of 14 blue-blue players and six reinforcements (Photo: Special)

Until a few years ago the The Mexican Futbol selection was one of the most committed national representatives on the planetBecause, like few other teams, she played the knockout matches for the World Cup, participated in tournaments of two confederations: the Gold Cup (Concacaf) and the America Cup (Conmebol), in addition to other competitions to which she was frequently invited.

One of them was the USA Cup, a tournament that was played every year of 1992 to 2000 (except in 1994 and 1998 because there was a world cup) in US territory, with the objective of promote "soccer".

In the USA Cup they participated four picks, although the only two that always were were the host, and of course Mexico, being a team that attracts large numbers of fans in the American Union.

It is worth mentioning that in most editions the "Tricolor" had come with his star squad; However, in 2000 there was an exception, because he attended with footballers who in their great majority were of the Cougars of the UNAM, club that at that time was going through a good moment under the direction of Hugo Sanchez.

Throughout its seven editions of the Cup, there were only 3 champions: the United States and Mexico with 3 championships each, and Germany with one (Photo: Special)
Throughout its seven editions of the Cup, there were only 3 champions: the United States and Mexico with 3 championships each, and Germany with one (Photo: Special)

And is that for that year, the Mexican National Team had a complicated agenda, as a few months before he played the Carlsberg Cup and the Gold Cup. Also, the qualifying rounds for the Korea-Japan World Cup were just around the corner. I am bad planning compromised the national team for the USA Cup; for this reason, the high command of the Mexican Football Federation (Femexfut) asked Hugo Sánchez and his team to will represent Mexico in said tournament.

"Hugo gave us the news that we would represent Mexico and we did not think twice. It was to fulfill a dream to represent Mexico, and in the end it was the best of my career (…) I do not know exactly why Pumas, but we had a good time and also it must be said, Hugo was striking"He recently declared to the newspaper Record Horacio Sánchez, former player of the Pumas and nephew of the "Pentapichichi".

That was how "The Pumas command”, The name that Hugo Sánchez gave to his team, had the mission of representing the tricolor in the seventh edition of the USA Cup, a tournament in which the national teams of South Africa and Ireland.

Hugo Sánchez and his nephew Horacio, lived great moments in Pumas, from 1999 to 2000 (Photo: Cuartoscuro)
Hugo Sánchez and his nephew Horacio, lived great moments in Pumas, from 1999 to 2000 (Photo: Cuartoscuro)

The squad was made up of 14 blue-blue players and six reinforcements. Among the university selected were Jaime Lozano, Jesús Olalde, Joaquín Beltrán, Raúl Alpizar, Horacio Sánchez and Sergio Bernal; while the reinforcements were Luis Hernández (LA Galaxy), Daniel Osorno (Atlas), Oscar Mascorro (Toros Neza), Gustavo Jiménez (Atlante), Luis Pérez (Necaxa) and Paulo César Chávez (Chivas).

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"If things go well, the cougar command will do something heroic, a feat; but if not … well we don't prepare this whole roll"The former technical director of UNAM mentioned before the Cup began.

On the other hand, Antonio Sancho He expressed his concern, since the honor and name of the feline institution was at stake. In the end, his participation was almost what Hugo expected.

Joaquín Beltrán was the leader of the university defense and also in the USA Cup (Photo: Special)
Joaquín Beltrán was the leader of the university defense and also in the USA Cup (Photo: Special)

The debut of "Pumas Command" took place on June 4 against Ireland at the Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago. Mexico went ahead on the scoreboard twice thanks to goals from Daniel Osorno and Horacio Sánchez, but the Irish team came from behind and The match ended tied at two goals.

For their second game, Mexico faced South Africa on June 7 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. In the first half "El Tri" managed to take advantage on the scoreboard, the goals were from Jesús Olalde and Luis Pérez, for the second half Horacio Sánchez scored a double to seal the Mexican 4-2 victory.

However, in the decisive game to define the champion, Mexico faced the selection of United States at the Los Gigantes stadium in New Jersey. In that match, the national team was thrashed by a score of 3-0.

Mexico tied with Ireland, beat South Africa and lost to the United States (Photo: Facebook / Horacio Sánchez Aguirre)
Mexico tied with Ireland, beat South Africa and lost to the United States (Photo: Facebook / Horacio Sánchez Aguirre)

This would end the adventure of the "Puma Command" in the USA Cup, which although it could not take the tournament title, Horacio Sánchez was the scorer of the contest with three annotations.

With this experience, the Pumas joined the select list of teams in the Liga MX who have dressed in the Mexican shirt to represent the country, including: América (1923), Necaxa (1935), León (1952) and Cruz Azul (2002).

Furthermore, fue Hugo Sánchez's first approach as DT of the National Team, since he resumed the position from 2006 to 2008, achieving a third place in the Copa América de Venezuela in 2007.

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