Santiago Gimenez is being heralded a hero…
The 22-year-old Mexican professional footballer scored the sole goal in Sunday’s 2023 Gold Cup final to help lead Mexico to a thrilling 1-0 victory over Panama.
Gimenez scored the late winner at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, to push Mexico past a resilient Panama side and lift a CONCACAF-record ninth Gold Cup title after Mexico interim manager Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano‘s side conceded just two goals in the entire tournament.
“With these results, they open opportunities,” said Lozano, who hopes to make his coaching stint permanent, after the match. “Obviously, I would like to be here. Obviously, it would be a dream to lead my national team in a World Cup, and even more in a World Cup where we’ll be the home side.
“If it’s my turn, it’s a dream, it’s a dream. What I’m experiencing now [as interim] is a dream.”
Lozano, hired just days before the start of the Gold Cup, replaced former coach Diego Cocca, who was fired after an embarrassing 3-0 loss to the United States in June’s Nations League Finals.
Panama made things difficult in a tight championship match, but following a late surge in the second half from El Tri, Gimenez tallied the sole score in the 85th minute.
Despite his Gold Cup success, Lozano noted that his agreement with the national team lasted only through the end of the tournament.
“I signed a contract for the Gold Cup; I believe that starting now I’m free [to sign with anyone],” Lozano said. “I don’t know if it’s in a few weeks or months, but a decision will need to be made, and from my part, whenever I can help the national team, I’m available.”
His status as an interim also led to a slightly awkward interaction with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in Sunday’s medal ceremony. After giving Lozano his medal, Infantino apparently wished the manager good luck in the next World Cup.
“I think Infantino didn’t know that my contract ended here,” Lozano said with a laugh in the postgame news conference.
At the very least for Lozano, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) has stated recently that he remains in the running for a permanent position. Earlier in the week, after Mexico had qualified for the Gold Cup final with a triumph over Jamaica, FMF executive president Ivar Sisniega said, “Whatever happens Sunday won’t determine the future of Jimmy Lozano,” as he discussed possible options for the team’s permanent manager.
“Of course, Jimmy should be one of the candidates,” Sisniega added.
Before coaching Mexico’s senior team as an interim, Lozano made a name for himself with a bronze-medal finish with El Tri at the Tokyo Olympics. A strong core of members on the current Gold Cup roster played for Lozano at those Summer Games in 2021, likely leading to his hiring before this tournament.
Mexico’s Gold Cup victory helps it maintain its status as the all-time leader in the tournament. The United States has the second-most titles with seven.
The U.S., Mexico and Canada are joint hosts of the 2026 World Cup.