JOHANNESBURG (AP) — When veteran goalkeeper Oscar Perez made Mexico's World Cup squad, few fans thought he would become the team's starter 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 in 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 supporting 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 doubtful for the next match against France on Thursday after hurting his right calf. The severity of the injury was not immediately clear.