Mexico are aiming for a record-extending ninth CONCACAF Gold Cup title when they face Panama in Sunday's final at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and a victory would be particularly sweet for interim coach Jaime Lozano.
Lozano, known to fans of El Tri as 'Jimmy', was handed the reins of the team for this tournament after Argentine Diego Cocca was fired following a disappointing Nations League campaign.
In the semi-final last month, Mexico lost 3-0 in Las Vegas to the United States after one of their worst performances against their rival in recent memory.
Although they went on to beat Panama in the third-place game, that win was not enough to convince Mexican Football Federation president Carlos Rodriguez, who sacked Cocca the following day.
Lozano was put in charge as a stop-gap for the Gold Cup and given what was, on paper, a weaker team to work with. But the performances in the tournament have led many pundits to suggest he should be handed the job on a permanent basis.
"I came to win the Gold Cup and that’s the only thing on my mind,” Lozano said after his team's impressive 3-0 win over Jamaica in Wednesday’s semifinal -- back in Vegas.
The 44-year-old former UNAM Pumas player has side-stepped questions over his future despite four wins in five games in the tournament.
"We are going step by step and now comes the most important game. We will do everything possible to bring the Cup back home," he said.
"I have enjoyed it a lot. I am truly very grateful for the opportunity, for what I have had to be with this national team and with these players”, added Lozano.
At the very least, Lozano will be considered as a serious option with a team that looked demoralized now buzzing with positivity.
Numerous players have praised Lozano's approach and fans have chanted his name throughout the tournament.
But Mexican football is notoriously volatile and fickle and that mood could change if Panama were to produce an upset and win their first Gold Cup in what will be their third appearance in the final.
Panama may not have the vast World Cup experience of the Mexicans but they have established themselves as a consistent force in CONCACAF and the current team, coached by Danish-Spaniard Thomas Christiansen is a real threat.
The Canalmen upset the United States in their semi-final, winning a penalty shoot-out after the game ended 1-1 after extra-time.
Striker Ismael Diaz made history by scoring the fastest hat trick in Gold Cup history with his goals in the 56th, 63rd and 65th minutes of the 4-0 quarter-final win over Qatar.
But Panama's star has been midfield playmaker Adalberto Carrasquilla whose elegant passing and ability to dictate the tempo have impressed through the campaign.
Panama can dream
Christiansen has brought a calm approach from the bench but also has his team well-organized and after beating the USA, he said they had earned the right to dream of glory.
"We have played good football, asking questions, having control of the game on many occasions, creating chances. We have also improved defensively. So, in general, if we take all this to the final we can dream a little," he said.
"We want to go all the way. We want to win a title for Panama, which deserves it," he added.
In their two previous appearances in the final, Panama lost on penalties to the United States in 2005 and the USA again beat them, 1-0, ten years ago.
A Panama victory would also be the first title for any team from outside North America.
Mexico have eight titles, the United States seven and Canada a solitary triumph in 2000.