Mexico came from behind to defeat Japan three to one in the Olympic men’s soccer semifinal on Tuesday and book the team’s ticket to its first-ever gold medal game at 3 p.m. GMT on Saturday. Yuki Otsu gave Japan the lead after only 11 minutes, but Marco Fabian, Oribe Peralta and substitute Javier Cortes each scored to give El Tricolor the comeback victory.
To win its first goal medal in the sport, Mexico will have to beat an impressive Brazilian squad led by 20-year-old phenom Neymar. Brazil cruised past South Korea with two second-half goals from Leandro Damiao in the other semifinal game, also played yesterday. Brazil is one of the most decorated soccer teams in the world, boasting the most World Cup titles of any country and two Olympic silver medals, but like Mexico, has yet to take home the gold.
Prior to yesterday’s result, Mexico’s best Olympic run ended with a fourth-place finish in Mexico City in 1968. But El Tricolor has experienced a resurgence of late. Mexico beat long-time rival the United States in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup and earned a spot in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup—considered a tune-up for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil—and the under-23 team went on to win all of its Olympic qualifiers. A gold-medal win on Saturday would provide needed momentum heading into World Cup qualifiers in the fall and cement Mexico as a rising soccer powerhouse.