Following a crazy and topsy-turvy final night of World Cup Qualifying in both CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, the fallout has taken a turn for the nasty and the match-fixing. While Chile debates taking action against Peru and Colombia, north of there, reports have come out that Honduras players might have tried their hand at a pact of their own. Catrachos midfielder Alfredo Mejía apparently asked Mexican star Andrés Guardado to purposefully miss a last-second free kick, in order to preserve Honduras’ 3-2 victory that sent them to the inter-continental playoff, instead of the United States.
— Vasu Kulkarni (@Vasu) October 11, 2017
Speaking to Honduran news outlet Diez, Mejía said that he did ask Guardado to take it easy on them with the set piece: “I told him that the match was already over, and that the result was important. We’ve always had showdowns with Guardado, and he is a humble person,” implying that the Real Betis midfielder would not go for the solo glory of scoring a last-second free kick to secure a meaningless point for Mexico.
As you can see in the video above, Mejía does not appear to talk to Guardado before the kick is taken, which the El Tri futbolero blasted into the wall shortly before the final whistle. Of course, the conversation could have happened before the beIN Sports broadcast cut to the tri-cam at the end of the Trinidad & Tobago/US match, but like the Falcao video that made the rounds after the Peru-Colombia match, there would be no way to prove that Guardado ended up purposefully missing.
Likewise, while some Mexican fans might have been happy that their team played a part in keeping the USMNT out of Russia 2018, it’s rare that players would willingly lose a game just to spite a rival. Never mind that that same rival helped Mexico out 4 years ago, with a last-minute goal of their own. More likely is the fact that Guardado was tired after 90 minutes on the pitch in a back-and-forth match, and couldn’t muster the strength the hit the free kick over the Honduran wall. A totally normal thing that happens to everyone, blown up into a mini-controversy because World Cup Qualifying gets everyone acting a little crazy.