In an interview with FIFA.com, Mexico skipper Rafael Marquez said the national team has a "deep-rooted problem" but is confident of Mexico's chances of qualifying for 2010 World Cup.Days before one of Mexico's most important games in the last three years, captain Rafael Marquez talked to FIFA.com about a variety of topics in his first interview since he was sent off against the United States on Feb. 11.
Marquez is out for Mexico's next two World Cup qualifiers, on Saturday against Costa Rica and April 1 at Honduras.
After receiving his red card against the Americans, Marquez said he was being singled-out for the loss and the state of the national team.
"I also think it's unfair that people are trying to pin the blame on me for the bad results we've been having," Maraquez told FIFA.com. "If you ask me, Mexican football has a deep-rooted problem and that's the cause of the bad patch we've been going through. Our football is stagnating and with everything that's happened, it's time to come right out and say it. If we carry on like this we're all going to pay for it."
The Barcelona man saw red after a vicious kick to American goalkeeper Tim Howard's legs on a play inside the penalty area. Trailing by a goal at the time, Mexico went on to lose 2-0. FIFA handed Marquez an additional one-match ban for his actions.
"I've calmed (down) about it now," Marquez said. "The first few days were very tough. I made a mistake but I've been going over it in my mind and learning from the experience. I'm focusing on my club at the moment... Of course, I'm sad that I'm not with the national team right now and that's mainly because I asked them permission to travel despite the suspension. I wasn't allowed to go, though."
With or without Marquez, Mexico need to show better. In their last four World Cup qualifiers, Mexico have gone 0-3-1, have scored twice and yielded six goals. Part of the problem, Marquez said, is the Mexican media.
"There are a lot of things that are going on and we need to analyze them closely to find out why they're happening. It's almost like we're trying to shoot ourselves in the foot," Marquez said. "I'm talking about everyone on the outside of Mexican football. Not everyone, of course, but sometimes the press seem to be trying to outdo each other and publish the most trashy stories to seel more papers. That doesn't help the national team."
When times are good, everyone on El Tri benefits and soaks in the success. But when times are tough, Marquez said it is the players who take the brunt of the heat.
"Sometimes I feel we're being left to fend for ourselves. At the same time though I'm aware that it's up to us to put things right and to work with what we've got at the moment," he told FIFA.com. "We know we can't afford to put a foot wrong. We need to give it our all and go all out to qualify. Sometimes people forget that we're only at the start and we need to give it everything we have, with all our strong points and defects."
Despite his captaincy and enormous popularity, Marquez has not been given a pass for his latest red card. Marquez, who was also sent off in the 2002 World Cup and 2005 Confederations Cup, said speculation over his love or lack thereof for Mexico were completely off base.
"Only people who don't know me and who have no idea about feelings in general say things like that," Marquez said. "If that were really the case, I'd have turned my back on the national team a long time ago... I'm never going to let Mexico down again. I made a mistake, that's true. I'm an aggressive player and that's one of my flaws and because of that I get made and lose control. But I'm learning to channel that energy now. I don't care about negative opinions because they come from people who don't know anything about football."
No matter what has happened in the past, Marquez said he feels Mexico will turn things around at some point during the Hexagonal and that El Tri will be in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
"I've got no doubts about that," Marquez said. "I'm convinced we'll qualify for the World Cup."