Ricardo Ferretti will take charge of Mexico for the first time in Friday’s friendly against Trinidad and Tobago at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the pressure will be on the interim coach from the opening kickoff. Following the match, the Brazil-born Ferretti will have just one more friendly against Argentina next week ahead of a blockbuster Confederations Cup playoff against the United States in a month’s time.
Ferretti was appointed last week to take charge of the next four games following the dismissal of Miguel Herrera. Despite leading the country to the Gold Cup title to secure El Tri a match with the U.S. for the right to go to Russia in 2017, Herrera’s subsequent physical altercation with a commentator brought his near-two-year reign to an end.
Fresh from leading Tigres to the final of the Copa Libertadores, Ferretti takes the job with a fine recent record. Already he has made a significant impact in charge of Mexico. His first squad lacked three of Mexico’s most prominent names -- the Dos Santos brothers, Giovani and Jonathan, as well as goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. It has been denied that the trio’s close ties with former manager Herrera played a part in their exclusion, but the decision still leaves plenty of questions.
Jonathan dos Santos emerged as a starter and a key player as Mexico won the Gold Cup in July, and Giovani has been in fine form since moving to LA Galaxy. Ochoa, meanwhile, has long been a reliable presence in goal, and, despite not getting playing time at Malaga, had been expected to continue as the No. 1, especially after the decline of nearest rival Jesus Corona.
There is a place in the squad, though, for Rafael Márquez . The 36-yearold has not played for the national team since suffering an injury in the opening match of the Copa America in June. Following injuries to Luis Montes and Oribe Peralta, Ferretti has also called in Tigres defender Jiménez and the uncapped Henry Martín, of Tijuana.
Otherwise it is a selection heavy on those involved when beating Jamaica 3-1 to lift the Gold Cup. The team is also boosted by the return of Javier "Chicharito" Hernández , who was ruled out of the Gold Cup after picking up an injury ahead of the tournament. The striker will have plenty on his mind, after he completed a move from Manchester United to Bayer Leverkusen at the very end of the transfer window on Monday.
Ferretti will be hoping that Mexico fare better than the last time they took on Trinidad and Tobago. In the final match of the group stage, El Tri threw away a 2-0 lead and then a 4-3 advantage in injury time to only draw 4-4 in a thrilling encounter. The result meant that Trinidad topped the group ahead of Mexico, although the Caribbean nation crashed out on penalties to Panama in the quarterfinals.
Coach Stephen Hart’s squad will be missing one of the key figures of their Gold Cup run, with captain Kenwyne Jones, who scored at both ends against Mexico, asking to be left out due to the uncertainty over his future at Cardiff City. Defender Sheldon Bateau also misses out. Four players come into the squad who weren’t involved at the Gold Cup -- Marcus Joseph, Trevin Caesar, Gavin Hoyte and Neveal Hackshaw.
Prediction: The loss of Jones is key for Trinidad and, while there could be some early teething problems for Ferretti, his reign should start with a narrow win.
Mexico 2-1 Trinidad and Tobago
Goalkeepers: Moises Munoz (America), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Defenders: Paul Aguilar (America), Oswaldo Alanis (Chivas), Israel Jiménez (Tigres), Miguel Layun (Watford), Rafa Márquez (Hellas Verona), Héctor Moreno (PSV Eindhoven), Francisco “Maza” Rodríguez, Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres)
Midfielders: Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus “Tecatito” Corona (Twente, Netherlands), Jesús Dueñas (Tigres), Carlos Esquivel (Toluca), Andres Guardado (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Javier Güémez (America), Hector Herrera (Porto), Henry Martin (Tijuana), José Juan Vázquez (Leon)
Forwards: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Raul Jimenez (Benfica, Portugal), Carlos Vela (Real Sociedad, Spain)
Trinidad and Tobago squad
Goalkeepers: Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC), Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic FC)
Defenders: Radanfah Abu Bakr (HB Køge, Denmark), Daneil Cyrus (Chicago Fire, USA), Aubrey David (Shakhter Karagandy, Kazakhstan), Gavin Hoyte (Barnet, England), Neveal Hackshaw (North East Stars), Yohance Marshall (Murciélagos FC, Mexico), Mekeil Williams (Antigua GFC, Guatemala)
Midfielders: Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge, England), Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes, USA), Keron Cummings (North East Stars), Kevan George (Columbus Crew, USA), Khaleem Hyland (KVC Westerlo, Belgium), Joevin Jones (Chicago Fire, USA), Marcus Joseph (Central FC)
Forwards: Trevin Caesar (Austin Aztex), Jonathan Glenn (Breiðablik, Iceland), Willis Plaza (Central FC), Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2, USA)