World Cup 2014 : Group A – Mexico

Group A consists of hosts, Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.

Barring a complete disaster it’s hard to see Brazil not coming top of the group, in all probability with a full quota of 9 points from 3 wins.

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Although Mexico have a fair enough record against La Selecao it’s hard to see them troubling Brazil on their home turf. Mexico struggled to the World Cup after a poor qualification campaign: in the end they only secured a play off spot in last minutes of their last qualifier and still needed the gringos to help them. In their play-off they dispatched New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate.

Although Mexico can count on the likes of Andrés Guardado, Javier Aquino and the mercurial Giovanni Dos Santos in their ranks the main bulk of the squad comes from Mexico’s Premier League. Javier Hernandez will be the main attacking threat but his appearances for a poor Mancester United have been fleeting and this must be a concern. Mexico have plenty of experience in their squad but it remains to be seen if coach, Miguel Herrera brings along the likes of Marquez, Dominguez and and Salcido.

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Mexico have a rich World Cup history befitting a nation with a population well over 100 million. They suffered as a result of poor referee decisions in South Africa tumbling to Argentina in the last 16 matching their progress in 2002 and 2006.

I can’t honestly see them doing any better this time round, indeed it may be a struggle to come out of the group in second.

Negrete’s wonder volley

World Cup Countdown: Classic goals

For many Mexico 1986 was the perfect World Cup. Not only did you have Maradona in his pomp (brilliantly summed up with his two goals against England) but you also had likes of Rummenigge, Scifo, Socrates, Francescoli, Elkjaer and Platini in their prime and performing. Also Scotland, England and Northern Ireland made the trip over the Atlantic to Mexico to pique the interest of the home nation supporters (unsurprisingly Scotland were home before the postcards…again).
With a population well over 100 million, Mexico is a football daft country and in 1986 they hosted their second finals (first in 1970) despite suffering a disastrous earthquake the year before.

Mexico had eeked their way through a tough group with close wins against Belgium and Iraq and a 1-1 draw with Paraguay setting themselves up with a winnable last 16 draw with Bulgaria. Hugo Sanchez was the team’s main star but it was Manuel Negrete that was “El Tri’s” main creative influence.

In 34th minute Negrete collected a high pass before laying the ball off to his team-mate. The ball was returned at perfect height leaving Negrete to thunder an acrobatic shot past the hapless goalkeeper. Although the goal would be upstaged days later by Maradona it is still remembered as one of the World Cup’s best ever goals.

USA claim historic draw in the Azteca.

MEXICO 0 USA 0

Undefeated but without a win, Mexico lie 5th in the CONCACAF qualification table after three games and three draws. Although they are only 2 points from surprise leaders, Panama, two of their draws have come at the Azteca where victories are usually a certainty.

Last night saw the big grudge match against the USA. The regions “Big Two” regularly battle out Gold Cup finals and usually vie for top spot in qualification campaigns. For Mexicans, the sweetest of victories come against the “Gringos” so last night’s stalemate would have been particularly difficult to swallow.

In what was to become the USA’s first point since 1997 and 2nd point ever in Mexico, the Americans held out to record a significant draw. The result is even more impressive given Mexico’s record in home World Cup qualifiers as Won 68 Lost 1 and Drawn 6.

Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan was the USA’S best player and the main difference between the teams. It was a cagey affair with “El Tri” dominating possession without crating many clear cut chances.

The visitors rode their luck in 75 minutes when Maurice Edu crudely challenged Javier Aquino in the box, the referee waved play on seemingly unimpressed nor unaffected by the masses protesting.

Mexico have the players to qualify but must be wary of the resurgent Panamanians and Costa Ricans.

Elsewhere in the region Costa Rica beat Jamaica 2-0 courtesy of Michael Umana and Diego Calvo goals, to go 2nd in the table behind Panama. The Central American minnows are not renowned for their football but are impressing all with their fast and athletic performances.

Luis Tejada got Panama off to a perfect start in 2 minutes but it took a Blas Perez in 75 minutes to cement the victory.

Team                   GP            W            D             L               PTs

Panama                3              1              2              0              5

Costa Rica            3              1              1              1              4

United States       3              1              1              1               4

Honduras            3              1              1              1                4

Mexico                 3              0              3              0               3

Jamaica                3              0              2              1               2

Only 3 teams directly qualify while 4th place moves into an inter-continental play-off. In reality the group is still very open but the emergence of Panama has raised some eyebrows.

The weekly scrap: Estudiantes Tecos vs Dorados, Mexican Liga MX

Those temperamental Latin Americans have been at again but this time in the north and the land of Tequila.

A fairly innocuous challenge turns into free for all involving nearly every player.

True to form the footballers so typical fighting skills with girly kicks, pushes and slaps that your grannie would be embarrassed by.

Copa America set for USA in 2016

CONMEBOL has announced plans to have the 2016 Copa America outside of South America for the first time.

Not only will the competition be in the USA, it will also include Mexico and the USA as fixed competitors along with 4 further CONCACAF nations.

The South American association is celebrating it’s 100th year anniversary in 2016 and as such the competition has been named “the Copa America Centennial”.

A cynic may view this plan as shameless effort in cash grabbing or a riposte to UEFA’s expansion of the European Championships in the same year – France 2016 with 24 teams. Regardless it should attract more attention than usual, although in recent years the Central American teams invited have fared pretty poorly.

CONMEBOL also announced that Mexico and Japan will be invited to the next Copa America in 2015, in Chile.