HOUSTON, Texas – Mexico’s 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup campaign has had its fair share of fireworks, but things were taken to another level in last Sunday’s 3-2 win over Martinique.
FW Uriel Antuna opened the scoring for Mexico with a late first half goal and then proceeded to celebrate with a back flip. Later in the match Fernando Navarro scored Mexico’s third goal and did a back-flip celebration himself.
The memory of that brings a wide smile from the 21-year-old Antuna, who claims that there was no coordination with Navarro on their respective acrobatics.
“I had it in mind earlier, in fact I had told some teammates that the next time I score a goal I’ll do it,” said Antuna in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com. “Fernando’s was pure coincidence, I had no idea that he was going to do it, so it wasn’t planned between us.”
Fortunately for both Antuna and Navarro, the celebrations did not irk Head Coach Gerardo Martino.
“I don’t think so! A couple teammates told me don’t do it because we don’t want any more injuries! It’s a celebration, nothing more, and it went fine,” said Antuna.
The youthful exuberance with which Antuna celebrates his goals is reflects his style of play, and with four goals in three Gold Cup games, including a hat trick in his Gold Cup debut, Mexico fans hope Antuna’s smile-generating moments continue.
“I’m happy, I’m feeling confident, the team is very committed, very focused on what it wants to do. In our minds, we want to be champions no matter what. I’ve said it a few times that it comes from the confidence that the coach gives me. I have been preparing myself for these kinds of moments,” said Antuna.
That’s not to say that Antuna has not had his share of adversity, but having played a big part in 13 group stage goals, the third-most in Mexico’s Gold Cup history, Antuna can look back on the tough moments in his career with perspective.
“This is part of the sacrifice and faith that I’ve had and that I’ve worked on. It hasn’t been all roses, I’ve had my rough moments that I’ve had to overcome, but thankfully now I’m here and helping the team,” said Antuna.
Achieving its first perfect group stage campaign since 2011 and doing it in such prolific goal-scoring style, Mexico is playing some of its best football, which Antuna believes is a direct result of the great team chemistry it has formed.
“This is a very healthy team, the ones with experience don’t see themselves as any greater or less than the youngsters. Everyone is getting along and doing well wherever we have been and that something to be thankful for. When it’s time to play, we play and we’re focused. We are all going for it together. This is a team and we are united in our goal of being champions,” concluded Antuna.