FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Miguel Herrera likes to say he needs a clear plan.
And the stocky Mexico coach on Tuesday made sure his players were following the script. As his team held World Cup favorites Brazil 0-0, he paced up and down beyond the coach's box, shouting and gesturing to his men and ignoring polite calls from a match official to step back a little.
It's those kinds of animated displays that have made him so popular back home in his short span in charge of the team. And after his tactics helped neutralize the tournament host and favorite, Herrera's popularity is only likely to soar even higher.
The 46-year-old veteran of Mexican club coaching had given his team a clear roadmap for how to fence in Neymar and Brazil: Deny them space, field an unchanged defensive lineup, bring on strikers at the end, and counterattack across the width of the pitch.
"When we strayed from the plan, Brazil created chances. When we didn't, Brazil couldn't shine," Herrera said.
"The team is doing a wonderful job but the boys deserve all the credit," he said. "Brazil is the favorite to win so of course we are happy ... I think Mexico has grown."
When Herrera took over as interim manager last November, Mexico was in danger of missing its sixth consecutive World Cup and he was the third man at the helm in the span of a month.
Under his leadhership, Mexico dispatched playoff rival New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate to earn the team a spot at the World Cup and himself a permanent job as coach.
In Brazil, he walked out his hotel to greet jubilant fans, having erased the nation's bad mood after the Mexicans beat Cameroon 1-0 in the opener.