It’s official! “Tecatito” will not be at the World Cup.
Coach Gerardo Martino told reporters Tuesday night that Jesús Corona would not be fit in time to join El Tri in Qatar. The flashy winger suffered a broken leg during a Sevilla training session in mid-August.
The situation opens a roster spot that had been assured to “Tecatito,” a circumstance that opens the door to a seat in the El Tri locker room. The top candidates for the role of playmaking wing vacated by Corona are Roberto Alvarado (Chivas), Orbelin Pineda (AEK Athens), Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul) and Diego Lainez (Sporting Braga).
While Alexis Vega (Chivas) has claimed the starting spot opposite “Chucky” Lozano (Napoli), the four hopefuls will battle to be an option off the bench for “Tata.”
El Tri friendly against Iraq is chance to demonstrate value
Alvarado is likely to get first shot against Iraq today as “Chucky” will not join El Tri until after the weekend. Alvarado and Antuna have been in the El Tri camp for nearly a month now, while Pineda and Lainez remain on club duty.
Lainez, a slick ball-handler and a fan favorite, would appear to be at a disadvantage as he has played just 251 minutes this season at Braga and he was virtually invisible at Real Betis last season, getting on the field for only 440 minutes during the entire 2021-22 campaign.
However, lack of playing time does not appear to be an automatic disqualifier.
Striker Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey) saw just 166 minutes of action over the past three months after picking up a serious thigh injury. Funes Mori returned in time for the playoffs but was noticeably out of sorts, wasting a couple clear chances at goal including a penalty kick that he squandered as the Rayados were upset in the semifinals.
Still, his spot with El Tri appears assured, a situation which could cause some discontent among Mexico fans. That’s because Martino on Tuesday also told reporters he would only include three strikers on the El Tri roster.
The key to who makes the final cut is Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton). Raúl is Martino’s first-choice striker but he is in a mad scramble to pass a final fitness test (sports hernia). If he is deemed ready to go, the three El Tri strikers will be Jiménez, Funes Mori and Henry Martín (América). The odd man out would be 21-year-old Santiago Giménez who is making waves in Feyenoord.
Most El Tri fans would rather have Santi on the squad – many want him to be the starter – especially as Funes Mori, a naturalized Mexican (an automatic strike in the minds of many Mexico fans), has come up short in previous national team appearances.
The decision – if it goes against Santi – will be met with howls of derision and disbelief and Martino is already under the gun with fans and the media decrying Mexico’s poor performances last year and this.