If not for historians, files or newspapers of the time, Cuba would have no way to remember that it once attended a World Soccer Cup. What has been the sport on the island since then does not let guessing that on June 12, 1938, against Sweden, the World Cup dream of Cubans stayed in those quarterfinals.
After that we have not even dreamed. We began losing with every little island in the Caribbean, to confirm the assumption that good soccer players are not born here. We bet on baseball, volleyball, boxing or individualities in another sports and let the luck of soccer to the pastures, or to the urban version of street soccer.
And I get annoyed with Reinier Gonzalez because he puts too much feeling when narrating a game, despite the improvement is not so great, it has never been. But before yesterday Mexico had failed to score against Cuba in regular time. Then our player Santa Cruz, in the 98th minute, scored with formidable shot from outside the area, like CR7, and for the first time in too long the Cuban soccer was soccer and not 11 people disorderly running in stampede after the ball. Then Sandy, the Cuban goalkeeper, saved a penalty kick from the best Mexican player, and an entire country dreamed again. And then Reinier was not exaggerating but the best of all possible encouragements.
It seemed that Mexicans would have to mourn, as they inconsolably did it at the World Cup in Brazil, when Arjen Robben painted them a grin on their faces and sent them back to Mexico City, without enjoying the party. But the referee whistled a foul, granting a free kick to the local squad and the equalizer came at 120th minute, like a bucket of cold water in the middle of the night. They went to die or kill to the penalties and the young boy Collado missed his shot. We went to sleep with the sorrow of having been at just one minute of glory, but perhaps, as one forum user of CubaDebate says; this almost-victory, this demonstration of good soccer and courage, is as good as gold, silver, and bronze medals together.
A colleague says he has seen generations of Cuban soccer players bleeding to death on the few fields of the country and getting diluted in a championship without a future; that within five years this team, if it ran the same fate as the senior one, could not face Mexico, or any little island in the Caribbean . And I say that we would be too ungrateful, because, fair and square, these guys have earned the right to dream.