Guillermo Ochoa feels it's only right that Mexico fans are finally backing Juan Carlos Osorio ahead of Wednesday's match against Sweden in Ekaterinburg.
Supporters had often voiced their considerable displeasure with the head coach amid a series of inconsistent performances during his tenure, including a humiliating 7-0 Copa America loss to Chile in 2016, followed by a shocking 1-0 loss to Jamaica in the semifinals of last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup.
That fraught relationship has been transformed into a love affair in Russia, where Mexico stunned 2014 World Cup champion Germany and then dispatched South Korea, 2-1, to close in on a place in the round of 16.
"It is very deserved that the fans recognized the coach," goalkeeper Ochoa told a news conference at the team's training base.
"He's a very dedicated and passionate person, always looking to learn. He's a football almanac, he lives for football and the Mexican players."
Mexico is in a commanding position at the top of Group F, although Germany's dramatic late winner in a 2-1 victory over Sweden means, should results go against them on the final matchday, El Tri could yet fail to progress.
"We were in the airport when we heard [about the Germany goal]," Ochoa said. "Honestly, we didn't do any calculations or mathematics.
"Regardless of how Germany did against Sweden, we were always going to play for first position in the group in the third game against Sweden."
Sweden sits third in the group, level on three points and with the same goal difference of zero as Germany, leaving Sebastian Larsson and his teammates to make a simple calculation.
"I know that if we win, we continue," he said.
"If we win with more [goals] than Germany wins, we win the group. I'm not going to say we're a better team, but I believe in our group.
"We have shown that we can give the best teams great difficulties. We know we have to play as close to the top level as we can."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mexico - Andres Guardado
PSV star Hirving Lozano and West Ham's Javier Hernandez have grabbed the spotlight for Mexico so far in Russia, but captain Andres Guardado has been a key figure at the base of El Tri's midfield, marshaling his teammates and combining well with fellow pivot Hector Herrera to break up opposition attacks and trigger his own team's forays forward.
Sweden - Jimmy Durmaz
A late substitute against Germany, Jimmy Durmaz gave away the foul that allowed Toni Kroos to score Germany's stunning late winner. Should he play, all eyes will be on the forward's response to the racist social media abuse he received in the wake of the incident that prompted Sweden's squad to issue a united condemnation of the perpetrators.
KEY OPTA STATS:
— Mexico has never won three consecutive matches at the World Cup and could become the first CONCACAF team to achieve the feat in World Cup history.
— Sweden's loss to Germany was its first in the group stage of the World Cup since 1990, when it lost 2-1 to Costa Rica.
— Sweden's Ola Toivonen did not score in 23 matches for Toulouse in Ligue 1 in the 2017-18, failing with all 19 of his shots — at the 2018 World Cup, Toivonen has scored one goal from just two shots.
— Sweden registered just 24 percent possession in its 2-1 loss to Germany, its lowest figure in a World Cup match since 1966.