Cocca presents first El Tri roster ahead of Nations League
Diego Cocca’s first selection list as manager of El Tri features 34 players, but unsurprisingly the combative Mexican sports media found fault.
Soccer pundits wondered why “Chicharito” Hernández was not invited and the absence of Chivas captain Víctor “Pocho” Guzmán also raised some hackles.
Several veterans were also omitted from Cocca’s initial roster which will take on Surinam and Jamaica in Concacaf Nations League matches.
Among those missing out were long-time skipper Andrés Guardado, forward Rogelio Funes Mori, midfielder Héctor Herrera and goalie Alfredo Talavera.
A few surprises, too
The new El Tri boss addressed the questions about his personnel decisions with aplomb.
Cocca said he has been in contact with “Chicharito” and the LA Galaxy striker was told the door remains open. The all-time leading Mexico goal-scorer had been black-balled by Gerardo Martino after allegedly violating team rules in 2019.
The new boss explained the absence of Guzmán by saying that “Pocho” was playing a different position with Chivas than he did with Pachuca the past few seasons and Cocca said he needs more time to evaluate the situation.
Reporters were also surprised by the inclusion of journeyman goalie José Antonio Rodríguez (starring with Tijuana this season) and young Pachuca forward Roberto de la Rosa (just 2 goals in 9 games this season).
Cocca also revealed that he has spoken with América playmaker Alejandro Zendejas, a rising star who is eligible to play for Mexico and Team USA. Although currently injured, the 25-year-old Zendejas is caught in a tug-of-war between the two Concacaf giants.
El Tri mini-camp set for next week
The newly selected members of Team Mexico will report to training camp beginning on March 20 with twelve of the players flying in from Europe.
National team director Jaime Ordiales said the plan is to use only Liga MX-based players in the March 23 contest vs Surinam so as to allow the “Europeans” to be well-rested and ready for the March 26 clash with Jamaica which will be a more competitive game.
So as to begin getting acquainted with his new squad, Cocca will invite 15 of the 22 domestic players to a mini-camp next week.
Full El Tri roster
Guillermo Ochoa (Salernitana)
Carlos Acevedo (Santos Laguna)
José Antonio Rodríguez (Xolos de Tijuana)
Israel Reyes (América)
Néstor Araujo (América)
Héctor Moreno (Monterrey)
Jesús Gallardo (Monterrey)
Gilberto Sepúlveda (Chivas)
Jesús Angulo (Tigres)
Kevin Álvarez (Pachuca)
Julián Araujo (Barcelona)
Jesús Sánchez (Ajax)
César Montes (Espanyol de Barcelona)
Johan Vásquez (Cremonese)
Gerardo Arteaga (Genk de Bélgica)
Luis Romo (Monterrey)
Arturo González (Monterrey)
Roberto Alvarado (Chivas)
Fernando Beltrán (Chivas)
Carlos Rodríguez (Cruz Azul)
Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul)
Marcel Ruíz (Toluca)
E. Sánchez (Pachuca)
Luis Chávez (Pachuca)
Diego Lainez (Tigres)
Sebastián Córdova (Tigres)
Edson Álvarez (Ajax)
Erick Gutiérrez (PSV)
Hirving Lozano (Napoli)
Orbelín Pineda (AEK Atenas)
Henry Martín (América)
Roberto De La Rosa (Pachuca)
Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton)
Santiago Giménez (Feyenoord)
Diego Cocca was named head coach of Mexico on Feb. 10 in place of Gerardo Martino whose contract expired at the end of the World Cup. Cocca had just taken the Tigres job after spending 4+ seasons in charge at Atlas where he won two Liga MX titles.