Mexico Preview – Mexicans To Create Waves
World Cup 2014
Mexico travel to the World Cup with a squad in relative turmoil, with the coach preferring to choose home-based players but may just have enough to prevail from Group A.
Mexico have been in the doldrums for over a year, dating back to their feeble efforts at the Confederations Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup last summer.
But if you’re looking for signs of improvement under new manager Miguel Herrera, there was a 4-0 thrashing of South Korea in January and they managed a couple of solid draws in the spring against fellow World Cup qualifiers Nigeria and the USA.
Things started to go wrong for the reigning Olympic Champions early in their final qualifying group. Four draws in five games left them third in the table and defeat by Honduras triggered the sacking of Jose Manuel de la Torre.
De la Torre was soon followed out the door by his deputy Luis Fernando Tena, who lost his only game in charge, and with two qualifying games to go, Victor Manuel Vucetich was brought in to rescue the situation.
Victory over Panama followed, but a final game defeat to Costa Rica, left Mexico’s fate in the hands of the USA, who did them a massive favour by scoring two injury time goals against Panama. Vucetich was given the boot and replaced by Herrera who oversaw a 9-3 play-off victory against New Zealand to secure a World Cup spot.
The new manager ruffled some feathers by picking only domestic-based players against New Zealand, but that policy has been ditched, so Javier Hernandez and Giovanni Dos Santos, the only two Mexican players with World Cup experience, are back, and Hernandez will lead the line alongside Oribe Peralta.
On paper, Herrera has plenty of talent to call upon and has assembled a balanced squad but he hasn’t had long to construct a team out of the chaos he inherited and he isn’t yet sure of his best team.
Mexico will expect nothing from their second game against Brazil, so will need at least a point from their final game against Croatia, but the crucial fixture is their first. Cameroon is the weakest of the African nations at the World Cup, their on-field inadequacies amplified by personality clashes and ill-discipline. A healthy victory against the Indomitable Lions is vital if Mexico are to progress.
Remember that pool of Mexican talent that everyone was talking about four years ago? Well it hasn’t dried up, and although they made a dog’s breakfast of their qualifying campaign, if Herrera can get the right players in the right positions and get them playing with confidence, they still have the capacity to cause a surprise.
They are a good bet at 23/20 to beat Cameroon in their opener, and given that the Croatians might struggle in the heat, Mexico are a good bet to nick the runners up spot behind Brazil. Back them at Evens in the Group A To Qualify market.