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World Championship 2010

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In South Africa

"El conejo" Pérez wants to justify starting spot

June 12, 2010 12h33PM


Oscar Pérez has been competing for the starting position with Memo Ochoa.. Photo: Getty Images

Oscar Pérez has been competing for the starting position with Memo Ochoa.
Photo: Getty Images

When veteran goalkeeper Oscar Perez made Mexico's World Cup squad, few fans thought he would become the team's No. 1 at the tournament.

Perez wants to show that coach Javier Aguirre didn't make a mistake. The keeper, nicknamed "The Rabbit" for his jumping ability, already played under Aguirre at the 2002 World Cup.

Now that he is 37, however, it was a complicated task to beat out Mexico's younger keepers, 24-year-old Guillermo Ochoa and 30-year-old Luis Michel.

Winning the starting spot "was something beautiful," Perez said Friday after a 1-1 draw against South Africa in the tournament's opening match. "I thought I would come in a support role because I wasn't sure if I was going to play."

"I wanted to do whatever he (Aguirre) asked me to do and I came out with the starting spot," he added. "Obviously, I'm very happy and I'm going to do all I can so that it works out."

Perez played only one match during the qualifiers, but took advantage of Ochoa's drop in form.

"It's very motivational for me that I was given the opportunity to be with this group," Perez said. "We are not worried about not winning (against South Africa), but we are happy with the overall performance, and I'm very happy because I was part of the opening match at a World Cup, which is a dream of every footballer."

Meanwhile, defender Rafael Marquez, who scored the equalizer for Mexico, is a doubt for the next match against France on Thursday after picking up an injury to his right calf. The severity of the injury was not immediately clear.

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