Mexico aims for ‘the fifth game’

Team: Mexico

Nickname: El Tri

Coach: Javier Aguirre (MEX)

FIFA Ranking: 17th

Best World Cup finish: 6th in 1970 and 1986 (quarter finals)

The world will be watching them.  Mexico’s national team will play for the sixth time in its history in an opening game at the World Cup, this time against the host nation South Africa.

The pressure has always been there. Playing he opening game as the visitor team has never been easy as if playing against both the players and the majority of the crowd. South Africans wouldn’t be happy to see Bafana Bafana losing to El Tri, however the statistics between these two favour the visitors with a 2-1 advantage.

On the other hand, El Tri hasn’t been very lucky when playing in opening games, losing in 1930, 1950 and 1958 against France, Brazil and Sweden, respectively. However, its fortune changed during the last two opening games when Mexico and the Soviet Union played to scoreless draw in 1970 and could defeat Belgium in 1986, both with Mexico playing as the host country.

This time, Mexico’s coach Javier Aguirre is not too worried about the first game. He strongly believes “the most important game is the second one against France.” Maybe he shouldn’t underestimate South Africans as Mexico’s problem has always been overconfidence.

The way to the World Cup

Mexico’s national team suffered from various transitions caused by the unexpected change of four coaches in four years. Ex Mexico star Hugo Sanchez took the helm of the team in 2006 and was fired in 2008 after failing to qualify to the last Olympic Games.

Coach Jesus Ramirez, who won the Under-17 World Cup with Mexico in Peru 2005, guided the national team after Sanchez was fired. But Ramirez didn’t last as Swedish Sven-Goran Eriksson was on his way to the land of the Aztecs.

Eriksson coached the team during the qualification games. He coached 13 games, won six, tied one and lost six. After those results he left the team in danger, pushing the Mexican Soccer Federation to make a quick decision.

It was then when Javier Aguirre, former coach of Atletico de Madrid came to the rescue. Mexico struggled in the first stage with the Americans as well as Honduras and El Salvador. But the Mexicans corrected their way, winning the rest of the games.

El Tri managed to qualify in second place, right below United States after the World Cup qualification games in the CONCACAF area.

Key Players

It wouldn’t be fair if we try to narrow the expectations to only one player, especially now that Mexico has numerous players that are currently playing in Europe – including Manchester United’s recent acquisition Javier “Chicharo” Hernandez.

Galatasaray’s attacking midfielder Giovani Dos Santos is one of the greatest younger hopes for El Tricolor. He played for Barcelona from 2002 to 2006, helping in the attack under the instructions of Coach Frank Rijkaard.

He has won numerous awards as a high-scoring player. Dos Santos possesses vast skills with the ball, being very fast on the sides of the field and can help on various positions on the team.

On the other side, 37-year-old Cuauhtemoc Blanco represents veteran players with good skills and will play his last World Cup. The free kicks and precise delivering of the ball is his strongest weapon.

El Chicharo is also a huge promise in the Mexican team. He was scouted since September last year by Manchester United, giving a pleasant impression to coach Alex Ferguson. He is a iublime forward that show score plenty of goals now and in the future for Mexico.

Mexico will meet in the first stage host team South Africa, France and Uruguay.