Atlas has named Mexican coach Benjamin Mora as the replacement for two time champion Diego Cocca. The move is controversial, as Mora has never coached in Liga MX and his success comes from a spell in the Malaysian League under club Johor Darul Ta’zim. Mora won the league title, but fans have doubt if Mora will translate that success to a extremely superior league like Mexico. Even more daunting will be following in the footsteps of Cocca, the most successful coach in Atlas’ history.
After only winning a single title in 1951, Atlas not only ended their drought under Coach Diego Cocca but won back to back titles, only the third team to do so in Mexico since the shortened Liga MX seasons came to existence in 1996. Atlas’ good run came to an end with a very disappointing season where they finished in 17th place out of 18 teams. Still the team had done well before and Diego Cocca would have still had credit with the team had he continued. But with strong rumors that he has an offer from Spain, Cocca decided to end his tenure in Atlas. The support was so much from Atlas’ fans that they had their biggest crowd on the season for their final match against Necaxa, as they went to say goodbye to Cocca with a 1-0 victory. Thus the job for his replacement was going to be a big deal for fans and to the shock of most, it was Benjamin Mora who got the job.
Benjamin Mora didn’t have a playing career in football before becoming a coach. In Mexico he got a job with Tijuana’s reserves in 2011 before moving to being an assistant in Queretaro, later with Atlante and finally with Chiapas. After that he went to Malaysia and took hold of the reserves squad of Malaysian club, Johor Darul Ta’zim. After the first team head coach left, Mora got the job, going on to win the League title while also getting to the Round of 16 in the AFC Champions League. Mora’s success made some headlines in Mexico as the news of a Mexican manager getting results in a foreign league was a nice thing to hear in Mexico. Yet to the surprise of almost everybody, Mora now gets the Atlas job, Suddenly the positive news of being a champions in a league like Malaysia has become a problem to the press and many Atlas fans, who have decided that he doesn’t have the experience and going to Mexican football will be a lot tougher than anything he faced in Asia. While it’s true that Mora is not totally unknown to Mexican football and had a good career in youth teams, he will have a tough job in Atlas. Famously another coach who didn’t have the biggest experience as a coach in Rafa Puente, Jr, had a disastrous spell at Atlas and hasn’t had a job since. Yet the Mora thing is a nice opportunity for a new coach, especially considering that Mexico constantly recycles the same coaches over and over again. Mora will have a tough task, but it’s not such a scandal that he gets a chance. But the reality is that he will be more harshly judged that other Mexican coaches who have been on the coaching carousel.