Ochoa, Guardado join exclusive World Cup five-timers club

Nov 20, 2022, 5:46 PM | Updated: Nov 21, 2022, 11:05 am
Mexico's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa speaks to the media during a press conference at the Qatar Nati...

Mexico's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa speaks to the media during a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center on the eve of the group C World Cup soccer match between Mexico and Poland, in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

(AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

              Mexico's Andres Guardado during the international friendly soccer match between Mexico and Sweden at the Montilivi municipal stadium in Girona, Spain, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)
            
              Cristiano Ronaldo se estira durante un entrenamiento de la selección de Portugal en Oeiras, en las afueras de Lisboa, el lunes 14 de noviembre de 2022. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
            
              Lionel Messi looks on during a training session of Argentina's national soccer team in Doha, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
            
              Mexico's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa speaks to the media during a press conference at the Qatar National Convention Center on the eve of the group C World Cup soccer match between Mexico and Poland, in Doha, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
            
              FILE - Mexico's Andres Guardado fields questions during the soccer team's Media Day ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa says people still come up to him on the street to gush about his performance in the 2014 World Cup against Brazil.

Ochoa made six saves in the scoreless draw with Brazil, which was among the favorites as the tournament’s host. He even denied Brazilian star Neymar on a header and afterward called it the “game of a lifetime.”

“I feel really grateful to be recognized globally, that means you have done good work,” Ochoa said Tuesday.

A towering fixture on Mexico’s roster since 2005, the 6-foot goalkeeper recalled the match eight years ago as he prepared to play in his fifth World Cup. Mexico opens the tournament on Tuesday against Poland in Group C. Argentina and Saudi Arabia are also in the group.

“I have seen how he plays in the World Cups and he has always been a genius. I especially remember what happened in 2014 and, to be honest, he is an excellent goalkeeper, with a lot of experience, Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny said.

Ochoa is among four players in Qatar who will join an exclusive group with five World Cup appearances, including Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Mexico teammate Andrés Guardado.

Before Qatar, there were only four players in the five-time club: Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, Germany’s Lothar Matthaus and Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal and Rafa Márquez.

Guardado and Ochoa hold the distinction of being the first teammates to play together in five straight World Cups.

Both made their debuts with the Mexican national team on Dec. 14, 2005, a 2-0 friendly victory over Hungary.

“I think that by being in my fifth World Cup I am lucky,” Ochoa said through an interpreter. “On top of that, being in a World Cup is never easy for a footballer. There are great players throughout history who don’t have the opportunity. For me, playing in five has been wonderful.”

Mexico has appeared in the last eight World Cups and has advanced to the knockout round in the last seven.

Mexico also has oldest player at the World Cup, fellow goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, who is 40. Ochoa is 37, while Guardado is 36.

___

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Ochoa, Guardado join exclusive World Cup five-timers club