Mexico's young stars led by Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez hope to land a second FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil this month, despite an unusually rocky road to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.

Mexico made it to five of the previous eight tournaments thanks to its dominance of the CONCACAF Gold Cup and it triumphed in 1999 by defeating arch-rivals Brazil 4-3.

They begin their campaign in Rio de Janeiro on 16 June against UEFA EURO runners-up Italy before taking on hosts Brazil on 19 June in the north-eastern city of Fortaleza and closing the group stage against Japan on 22 June.

Mexico's new crop of players include midfielder Giovani dos Santos and winger Andres Guardado, both of whom ply their trade in Spain and were part of the squad that won the Olympic gold medal - against Brazil again - in London last year.

Crucial absentees
But a big name missing from the line-up is Carlos Vela, the former Arsenal forward, who is now shining at Spain's Real Sociedad but has had tense relations with his home federation since 2011.

Mexico manager Jose Manuel de la Torre met Vela in Spain but decided to keep him off the list, explaining that the 24-year-old was "not committed to being in the national team at this moment".

Vela's presence could have helped a team that has struggled to score goals in its FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, despite having Hernandez up front and his tally of 32 goals in 47 games for the national side.

Mexico will also be without forward Oribe Peralta, another of the country's Olympic heroes, owing to injury.

De la Torre, known as "El Chepo," has made it clear that making it to the FIFA World Cup - which Mexico has qualified for 14 times before - was a priority over the FIFA Confederations Cup.

"What is clear is that we need to score more goals," de la Torre said recently. "Every game is a new episode in which we will try to win," he said. "We are moving step by step."

Although he was cautiously optimistic that Mexico would move within qualifying range in June match-ups, he added: "I never guarantee anything because I don't even know if I'll be here tomorrow or even alive."

The first three CONCACAF teams directly qualify for the FIFA World Cup while the fourth-placed team heads to a play-off against the winner of Oceania.

Mexico will have been buoyed by this week's 1-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying win against Jamaica in Kingston - their first win after three draws.

Mexico has two more qualifiers this month, facing Panama on Friday and Costa Rica on 11 June, before the last four games in September and October, including a crucial match-up against USA.