- Tigres UANL are Mexico’s most successful club of the last decade
- Ricardo Ferretti has been their coach throughout that period
- “Every team is up for this,” he said ahead of Qatar 2020
It has been a case of third time lucky for Ricardo Ferretti in his long association with Tigres UANL. Trophy-less in his first spell in charge between 2000 and 2003, he returned for 27 games in 2006 before finally hitting the jackpot with the club in his third spell starting in 2010.
Tigres were in danger of being relegated at the time, but the man they call Tuca had a plan: not only would he save them from the drop, he would also take them to the very top.
He has been true to his word.
Since then, Tigres have amassed nine trophies, winning Liga MX five times, the Copa MX once and the Campeon de Campeones [contested by the Apertura and Clausura winners each season] three times. The only trophy that had evaded the club over the last decade was the Concacaf Champions League, a competition in which they lost three finals between 2016 and 2019.
“Despite those defeats, we stayed focused on winning the trophy,” said Ferretti, whose side finally achieved the feat in 2020. “For ten whole years the team showed just how good they were, and in those three finals that we lost, things just seemed to go against us, which can always happen. We even lost a penalty shootout when we looked to have it all under control. But now that we’ve gone and won it, all that pressure is off our backs. We can now go to the Club World Cup and look to do something big.”
The lowdown on Ricardo Ferretti
- Born on 22 February 1954 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- First went to Mexico in 1977, to play for Atlas
- As well as Tigres, he has also coached Pumas, Guadalajara, Toluca and Morelia and he also had spells as Mexico’s caretaker coach in 2015 and 2018
- Only Javier de la Torre has had a longer spell in charge of a Mexican club than Ferretti in his third stint with Tigres; De la Torre spent 13 seasons in the Guadalajara hot seat between 1960 and 1973
Los Felinos have good reason to be excited about their chances at the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™, as Ferretti explained: “The strength of my team lies in the balance between attack and defence. We’ve got some very experienced players, who have a lot of mental and technical ability. Just when it looks like there’s a problem on the pitch that can’t be solved, they go and solve it. My team is ready and there’s a very solid base there for the next few years.”
It is a team with some big names, among them French forward Andre-Pierre Gignac, the club’s all-time top goalscorer and the mainstay of the attack. Yet as far as Tuca is concerned, the group always comes before any individual.
“I don’t like to talk about one or two players only because this is a team,” he said. “We’ve got some very capable performers with a great mindset. What I like most about them is that they’re ready to use that mental strength for the good of the team.”
Now 66 and at the height of his powers, Ferretti is set for the biggest competition of his career to date, one that began in 1991 and in which he has never gone a single season without coaching.
“I love doing what I do,” he explained. “This is one of the most beautiful sports in the world and I feel very grateful to be part of it. I feel very grateful to have been doing the same thing since I started playing the game 53 years ago. I don’t find it repetitive or boring because I’m doing what I love, because football is my passion. The day I stop feeling that 100 per cent is the day I’ll stop.”
The stage is set for the Brazilian coach to round off in style a decade in which he has won virtually everything there is to win. A stellar performance in a prestigious international tournament would certainly achieve that. But what can be expected from his Tigres on their Club World Cup quest?
“Respect for every opponent,” came the reply. “We’re all after the same thing: to play to our full potential and win the trophy. Every side is up for this, but only one of them will win it. I hope it’s us. We’re excited, ambitious and talented. We’ll be taking on every team we face, from the first to the last, with the right attitude and without underestimating anyone. Things will get tougher as the tournament goes on, but we’ll maintain that respectful approach, without being scared of anyone.”