MOSCOW — Mexico’s mantra for this World Cup is “No Excuses,” and that includes no complaining about the menu.
The team brought two tons of food to Russia, along with everything necessary to make their players’ favorites, including traditional tacos, cheesy quesadillas and, of course, their hot salsas.
When Colombian manager Juan Carlos Osorio took over the Mexico team in 2015, he gathered a staff that includes a mental coach, a kinesiology specialist, a recovery expert and nutritionist Beatriz Boullosa.
“Professor Osorio says it all the time, there are no excuses here — he’s a man that makes his decisions based on hard facts and he has opened the chance for every one of us in our respective areas to give something to the national team,” Boullosa told The Associated Press.
“We know that in the past, soccer has been ruled in the belief that: ‘since I was a player and that worked, it applies,’ but that is not how we run things around here, every decision is based on science.”
Boullosa has worked for the national teams since 2010. She was part of the staff that won the Under-17 world title in Mexico in 2011, and also worked for the Olympic team that won the gold medal in 2012, but coach Miguel Herrera was not convinced and let her out of the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
Osorio heard about Boullosa’s work and brought her along to take care of the diet and nutrition of the squad.
“Every player has specific needs, not just based on his position but also based on his physique and his performance in training and in games. It’s not the same for someone who played 90 minutes, to someone who stayed on the bench, we take every variable into account to make sure every player gets what they need”, said Boullosa.
The nutritionist is also responsible to monitor the nutrition supplements for the players to avoid any chance of doping violations. She says everything was supervised by a laboratory in Germany before the World Cup.
The team did not ingest any red meat from Mexico to avoid any chance of positive tests with clenbuterol, a banned substance that is widely used by Mexican ranchers as a growth-enhancer.
In 2011, five players from Mexico’s squad tested positive for clenbuterol, among them Guillermo Ochoa, the starting goalkeeper in this World Cup. The country’s federation ruled the positive tests were caused by contaminated meat. More recently, Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez tested positive for the same, forcing the postponement of his rematch with Gennady Golovkin.
“We started consuming red meat since we arrived in Denmark,” Boullosa said. “Players are carnivorous by nature and they are happy to get the red meat back on their diet, and in nutrition terms it was also important because it has great bioavailability and we had it banned while in Mexico.”
With red meat available, players can now eat all their favorites, and that includes tacos.
“We brought a lot of food and we also brought a chef to make every dish as the player likes it, we are making corn tortillas that taste like glory,” Boullosa added. “Players ask for their quesadillas and their tacos and that really helps psychologically, because you bring them closest to home.”
But there can’t be a good Mexican taco without their ancestral partner: the hot sauce, an item that also crossed the ocean from Mexico.
“We made a spicy chili-peanut sauce that is delicious, and we also have traditional salsas, some of the super spicy and some mild ones,” added Boullosa. “We also brought cans of beans and corn. We are super loaded.”