By Dan Price
Mexico are in the midst of preparing for the Copa America, with the kick-off now less than ten days away. It marks one of two tournaments this summer for El Tri, meaning fans are in store for a bumper amount of drama and excitement.
Miguel Herrera’s men have been drawn in Group A along with host nation Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The tournament’s first game takes place next Thursday as Chile play Ecuador. Mexico get play their first match the following day against the Group’s weakest side, Bolivia.
Herrera named his 23-man squad a couple of weeks ago, but it was finalised on Monday. Several first team players are absent due to the Gold Cup – which starts just three days after the Copa America final. Mexico have prioritised the Gold Cup in a bid to win a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup, with this year’s winners playing 2013’s winners the United States for a place in the World Cup warm-up event.
The Mexico squad in full is:
Goalkeepers: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Meliton Hernandez (Veracruz)
Defenders: Adrian Aldrete (Santos Laguna), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), George Corral (Queretaro), Julio Cesar Dominguez (Cruz Azul), Gerardo Flores (Cruz Azul), Rafa Marquez (Hellas Verona), Carlos Salcedo (Chivas), Juan Carlos Valenzuela (Atlas), Efrain Velarde (Monterrey)
Midfielders: Javier Aquino (Rayo Vallecano), Jesus Corona (Twente), Marco Fabian (Chivas), Javier Guemez (Tijuana), Juan Carlos Medina (Atlas), Luis Montes (Leon), Mario Osuna (Queretaro)
Forwards: Enrique Esqueda (Tigres), Eduardo Herrera (Pumas), Raul Jimenez (Atletico Madrid), Matias Vuoso (Chiapas)
They have been in good form since last summer’s World Cup, losing just two of their ten games (against the US and Belarus – both with a second-string side), and comprehensively winning 3-0 against Guatemala last weekend.
The game against Guatemala saw Pumas UNAM striker Eduardo Herrera score twice. It bodes well for the 26-year-old – he is set to lead the Mexico attack throughout the competition.
Herrera will hope that captain Rafa Marquez will be able to provide a steady head for some of the younger and less experienced players in the squad. The 36-year-old has spent the season with Verona in Italy, and will return to the national side for the first time since the World Cup.
It’s hard to predict how far Mexico will go in the competition. They have taken part at the Copa America on eight occasions since their first appearance as invitees in 1993 and they’ve only failed to make it out of the group on one occasion – in 2011. They’ve finished as runners up twice (1993 and 2001) and in third place on three occasions (1997, 1999, 2007).
The opening game is a must win, though with only four sides of the twelve sides falling by the wayside in the group stage, a point from either Chile or Ecuador should then be enough to see them through. The problem would come in the quarters – unless they win the group they would play either Brazil, Colombia, Argentina or
Uruguay – all a tough ask without their star players.
Herrera says they want to win it, but in reality simply reaching the semis would be a huge achievement.