Having played three matches in the final six-team group in the CONCACAF Zone, Mexico find themselves in an unaccustomed fifth position, out of the qualifying places. That said, only two points separate the Mexicans and section leaders Panama, and with three crunch matches to come in the space of a week, El Tri have an opportunity to revive their bid for a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
FIFA.com runs the rule over Jose Manuel de la Torre’s side ahead of their upcoming meetings with Jamaica, Panama and Costa Rica, which represent an intensive warm-up for their appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013.
“We have to give absolutely everything we have on the pitch and think about nothing else but winning,” said Tri captain Javier Rodriguez, summing up the depth of feeling in the Mexico camp after what has been a difficult start to 2013, with the CONCACAF powerhouses drawing all six of the games they have played since the turn of the year.
Their first engagement in a busy few days comes on Wednesday away to Jamaica. Though bottom of the group, the Reggae Boyz held the Mexicans to a valuable goalless draw at the Estadio Azteca back in February. And while El Tri have only lost once to the Caribbean islanders in the last ten years, they can expect another stern test in the torrid heat of Kingston against a side desperate to keep their own qualification hopes alive.
“You need to be on top of your game for matches like these and not give anything away,” said Hector Herrera, a member of Mexico’s gold medal-winning side at London 2012. “We have to win any way we can, though obviously we’d like to play well too. I think we’ve got the resources to do both right now.”
After their trip to Jamaica the Mexicans will travel on to Panama for what is a genuine six-pointer against the group leaders, who are very much on the rise and harbouring high hopes of reaching the world finals for the first time. With five points from three games, Los Canaleros have already amassed more than they managed in their ten matches in the final round of qualifying for South Africa 2010.
Mexico’s not-so-secret weapon on these dangerous missions is Manchester United striker Javier Chicharito Hernandez, who struck both his side’s goals in last Friday’s 2-2 draw with Nigeria in Houston. Having gone scoreless in two of their last three qualifiers, the Mexicans will need the young sharpshooter to be on his very best form if they are to collect much-needed points in the days ahead.
“We’ve got no option but to win,” said the front-man, before pointing to one of Mexico’s key assets: team spirit. “Whenever results haven’t gone our way the side has stuck together and looked ahead.”
Home sweet home
In the final game of the trilogy, Mexico return to the Estadio Azteca to take on a Costa Rica side intent on repeating the Aztecazo, their famous 2-1 win at the Mexico City fortress back in June 2001, the only time the Mexicans have lost a FIFA World Cup qualifier at home. Following goalless draws in their two home games in the section to date, El Tri will be anxious to get back to winning ways at their stronghold.
“There’s a lot at stake for us,” acknowledged midfielder Angel Reyna. “We’re ready, though. The team is prepared for what’s coming up and we’re in the right frame of mind to overcome any situation.”
As they prepare for a crucial few days, the determined Mexicans have nothing but victory on their minds and putting their shaky start behind them, as skipper Rodriguez made clear: “As far as we’re concerned, drawing just doesn’t come into the equation. It’s all about winning. We have to go out and get three points.”