Upon landing in Qatar in the wake of their Club World Cup debut against Ulsan Hyundai next Thursday, Tigres’ keeper Nahuel Guzmán was approached by the media and had a very interesting thought regarding CONCACAF and especially Mexico. The goalstopper made clear to everyone that both he and his teammates are representing Tigres and Tigres alone. In no way are they representing Mexico or anyone else who wishes to cling to their name. He of course had another choice of words but this is what he ultimately meant to express.
Guzmán is known for having a hot head and has been involved in many scuffles with different people, be it players, members of the media, etc., both on and off the pitch. In other words, this new situation doesn’t come as a surprise.
With that being said, it’s also no secret that media around the country, especially in Mexico City, have constantly refused to include Tigres in the big Liga MX clubs conversation, and have been particularly critical of Guzmán, along with going soft on other keepers and players who have behaved in the same way. We know of important teams with successful pasts such as Chivas, América, Cruz Azul, and Pumas. But the Monterrey-based club’s success in the past decade (which clearly made them the team of the decade) and the level of consistency they’ve shown night in and night out, is something we’ve rarely seen in Mexican football. And that’s something media members and football fans aren’t used to from teams in cities other than Mexico City or Guadalajara.
In other words, the media have played their part as well in attempting to paint Guzmán as the villain of the story, while they themselves share a big part of the blame. And by the way, sorry to break it to all the media outlets in Mexico, but yes, Tigres are one of the bigs in Mexico now, as well as Rayados. So, one can understand the keeper’s side in this ongoing fued as well.
In the end, however, I believe Nahuel didn’t choose his words wisely. Whether he likes it or not, the truth of the matter is that he’s representing not only Mexico, but the entire continent of North and Central America in this tournament. And anyone who wishes Mexico success in football on a worlwide scale should be rooting for Tigres and Guzmán regardless. I think this was a good chance for him to get on people’s good side, but then again he might’ve been criticized and disowned by many fans and media outlets as well. Even his ex-teammate and current Mazatlán FC player, Israel Jiménez, respectfully disagreed with the keeper and concluded that he does represent Mexico whether he likes it or not.
Say what you like, whether he thinks they represent North America, Mexico, or just San Nicolás de los Garza, Guzmán continues to be a top-3 keeper in Liga MX and arguably the continent. You don’t have to like him, but you do have to respect the quality, intensity, and passion he brings to the table every match for Tigres. They’re much better off with him in the lineup and he’s been as clutch as they come, rising to the occasion every chance he’s gotten since his arrival at the club over six years ago.