Thanks to Graham Zusi who scored for the US national side against Panama a few weeks back, Mexico managed to secure fourth place in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers last month. There was relief all across Mexico as the national side had made quite a meal of things during the qualification campaign.
On the other side of the world however, the reaction was viewed with quite indignation.
After qualifying for the intercontinental playoffs against a country from Oceania, the Mexicans seem bullish about their chances of securing a berth for Brazil 2014, something that many Kiwi players have not found impressive at all.
Preview: Panama looking for another historic victory
When both these sides took the field in their opening match of the group stage, Mexico undoubtedly had a hand full of question marks surrounding their manager. After losing that match 2-1, angry Mexican fans expressed their concern surrounding Manuel de la Torre's job security.
Fortunately for de la Torre, El Tri has managed to bounce back, outscoring their opponents 6-1. When you put that stat along side Panama's unbeaten run, having outscored their opponents 9-2, this should be a match with a few goals to offer.
Preview: M. Fabian's El Tri eyeing a positive start
This Gold Cup fixture will open El Tri’s defence of their CONCACAF title. The good news for the Mexicans’ backline is that it will not need to contain Blas Perez at the Rose Bowl. The Panama striker has opted to miss this encounter for tonight’s big MLS clash between FC Dallas and LA Galaxy due to take place at the StubHub Center at 22:30 ET. Meanwhile, Mexico vs Panama kicks off at 20:00 ET.
Adding to Panama’s key absences are Godoy Cruz midfielder Armando Cooper and 32-year-old defender Felipe Baloy of Santos Laguna. El Tri’s manager, Jose Manuel de la Torre, is thus expected to live up to the challenge and snatch maximum points from his side’s Gold Cup opener.
Pressure is something the coach must deal with as pundits believe that this tournament presents a final chance to redeem his career. One of the home-grown stars who could lend a helping hand to De La Torre is attacker Marco Fabian. The London 2012 Olympics gold medallist told the press ahead of the Gold Cup:
“We understand clearly the great opportunity we have in front of us. We have to demonstrate our abilities. We have to demonstrate them to ourselves, the coaching staff and the rest of the country. It's an honor to be here.”
With the exclusion of European-based regulars, Mexico’s young squad cannot complain of lack of space to shine. The 2013 Gold Cup is an immense chance for the players involved to prove that they belong to the future of the national team.
The battle against Panama this Sunday is one they are keen on winning.
Where to watch the match live – Start time, live stream, TV channels
Watch Mexico vs Panama live:
In Canada at 20:00 ET on: Sportsnet World
In the CONCACAF region, the table’s leaders Costa Rica host the 2009 Gold Cup champions Mexico in what promises to be a thrilling encounter.
Mexico are favorites again
El Tri are currently out of the qualification zone as they seat fourth in the six-team group table. They’ve picked up only 9 points from a possible 18. These facts indeed reveal their reality in which Mexico are living. However, the team’s recent success in the Gold Cup looks to have redefined their strength in depth.
Coach Javier Aguirre’s mixture of veterans with young chaps has truthfully paid off the country’s pride. Giovanni Dos Santos, Carlos Vela, and Miguel Sabah are key players in the Mexican squad. The trio particularly contributed to Mexico’s success in the Gold Cup competition that was held earlier in July.
An equalizer for Panama and two red cars for El Tri meant that Mexico had suffered a bad day.
Next up is a match against Guadeloupe in round 3 of the Gold Cup tournament. Can Mexico overcome the challenges and qualify to the quarterfinals of the competition?
Coach Javier Aguirre will be unable to support his boys from the touch line; the Mexican boss was given a red card in the last moments of the game against Panama. Adding to this sorrow will be midfielder Noriega’s absence on Sunday.