El Tri and coach Jaime Lozano face a critical two-game stretch that could set the stage for a resurgence – or a relapse – heading into next year.
On Saturday, World No. 13 Mexico takes on Ghana (No. 60) and then faces 15th-ranked Germany on Tuesday in a pair of intriguing clashes.
This is just Lozano’s second hand-picked roster (he won the Gold Cup in July as interim coach with a squad chosen by Diego Cocca) and the opponents should provide a real test for the progress he has made as he seeks to overhaul and “youthenize” what had become a stagnant team.
The results during the October FIFA window did not meet the heightened expectations adopted after the Gold Cup triumph. El Tri scored late to secure a 2-2 draw against Australia then stumbled to a 3-3 tie vs lowly Uzbekistan. As such, Aztec Nation is hoping to see progress.
El Tri vs Ghana, African sides
Team Mexico is 21-9-4 vs African teams, though that is a rather inane statistic with regard to predicting anything about tonight’s game against The Black Stars.
The first time El Tri faced an African side was back in 1968 when Mexico manhandled Ethiopia 3-0. Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and South Africa are the four African selections with W’s against Mexico.
Mexico has faced Ghana three times, winning all three – 1-0 in 2006, 2-1 in 2008 and 1-0 again in 2017.
None of this means anything to Athletic Bilbao’s Iñaki Williams, Arsenal’s Thomas Partey or Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew. And Edson Álvarez’s West Ham teammate Mohammed Kudus will be unfazed by Mexico’s 3-0-0 record over Ghana.
‘Jimmy’ talks up Santi, gets realistic about Memo
Coach Lozano can be expected to rely heavily on Feyenoord striker Santi Giménez who is leading the Eredivisie with 12 goals through 8 games.
“Jimmy” spoke effusively about the young striker who has been mentioned as a December target for top European clubs. “Santi is the most in-form of the three forwards we have on hand and he is doing it in a tough league,” he said.
Regarding the other end of the pitch, “Jimmy” talked frankly about making sure Mexico’s net is adequately protected.
With long-time goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa struggling at Salernitana, reporters asked Lozano if he was concerned.
The coach admitted it was up to him to make sure El Tri has quality goalies on hand and he was determined to hold the team’s captain to the highest standard.
Referencing Ochoa’s experience and reliability, Lozano said “Right now, Memo is the best goalie we have, but he should not expect to be the starter automatically. He will face competition.”
Still, “Jimmy” admitted that Ochoa is off to a rough start in Serie A and his club performance will factor into roster decisions.
Back-liner removed from roster
Monterrey defender Víctor Guzmán has been ruled out of both friendly matches after failing a fitness test. The 21-year-old arrived at camp with a knee complaint and he was sent back to his club to continue rehabilitation.