Ahead of his side's Round of 16 meeting with in-form Argentina, Mexico left-back Carlos Salcido has everything crossed for a case of third time lucky.

The gifted defender faced La Albiceleste in the semi-finals of the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup, scoring the opener in a 1-1 draw, only for Mexico to go down 6-5 on penalty kicks. The following year the nations clashed again, this time in the last 16 of Germany 2006, in a game which ended in a 2-1 extra-time reverse for El Tri.

"I remember that we scored first in that match through Rafael Marquez. Then they equalised from a corner, I think, and then Maxi [Rodriguez] scored an unbelievable goal," recalled the hard-running wide-man in conversation with FIFA. "He controlled the ball with his chest and, before it hit the ground, struck a volley beyond our keeper Oswaldo [Sanchez]. And after that there wasn't enough time for us to try and draw level or win the game. I think this'll be a different story. I don't want to treat it like revenge though, it's just football. It's turned out that we're playing them again now, and the only thing I want is for us to give it a good go."

If we can manage to nullify their attacking players, and if we prepare really thoroughly, we can get at them.

Carlos Salcido, Mexico defender

Hitting their stride
Javier Aguirre's charges will need to do just that to keep pace with an Argentina team boasting a 100 per cent record so far. "They're a fantastic side and are very good going forward," said Salcido of Diego Maradona's men. "I think that if we can manage to nullify their attacking players, and if we prepare really thoroughly, we can get at them. You have to play at 100 per cent if you want to beat Argentina in a game like this," added the PSV Eindhoven player, likely to have to deal with none other than Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

"He [Messi] has already proven he's the best in the world. He's shown it for his club and, though doubts were raised about his national-team displays, his quality is indisputable. We all know that he's an impressive player and he's someone we'll have to keep tabs on." Yet Messi is not the only stellar performer in a glittering Argentina squad, who stand between Mexico and a first quarter-final appearance beyond their own borders. "Mexico have never played more than five games at a World Cup before. That's our dream and our goal for this tournament. Let's hope that Sunday's match keeps us on track to make history," said Los Aztecas' No3.

"We're perfectly aware of what's at stake in the clash with Argentina, but we've got the motivation, the energy and the strength to be there," added Salcido, in determined mood ahead of the meeting at Johannesburg's Soccer City, as the interview drew to a close. "All we're hoping for now is that slice of luck you need to make things go your way."