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Emotional roller-coaster ride for Mexico soccer fans still isn't over

Mexico Costa Rica game

Josie Huang/KPCC

Stephanie Granados (left) and her mother Maria Morales (right) will be rooting for Mexico in its Tuesday match-up with Costa Rica.

It was a kick heard around the world. 
  
Raul Jimenez's bicycle kick in the 85th minute of Friday's game gave Mexico the goal to beat Panama 2-1.

The victory was not just welcome but necessary. 

Mexico has been struggling to gain a spot at the World Cup competition in Brazil next summer.  If the team doesn't make it, it will be the first time in more than two decades.

Next up, Mexico has to beat Costa Rica today stay in the running. Costa Rica has already qualified for the World Cup, but will probably play hard against its rival, Mexico in a match at home.  The anxiety level is rising for Mexico's large fan base in Southern California with many bracing for the worst. 
 
"Mexico is not going to win," Rudy Castro, who owns a laundromat in East LA said.  

Don't get Castro wrong.  He also said,  "100 percent - I'm with Mexico," and overjoyed after the Panama game, he clinked beers with his dad. But he refused to stay upbeat. 

"Right now Mexico is not playing like it played before," Castro said. "It's playing like high school, OK? Be honest with you!" 

Castro faults poor management and is happy the team has replaced the coach. 

But Maria Morales, who owns a beauty supply store in East LA, puts some of the blame on the players. 

"They make us angry because we know Mexico -- they are very good players," Morales said. 

She and her daughter Stephanie Granados, who was helping her mind the shop, remain confident Mexico will beat Costa Rica.

"And if they don't," Granados said, "they always have next time."

Morales shook her head, not liking her daughter's answer. 

She thinks the World Cup wouldn't be the World Cup without Mexico in it. 

But even a victory over Costa Rica won't guarantee Mexico a berth.  The team would next have to face an intercontinental playoff with New Zealand. 

 

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