Juan Carlos Osorio expects to see a positive reaction from his team when Mexico visits El Salvador on Friday in its first match since its 7-0 humbling at the hands of Chile. That stunning defeat in the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario, the heaviest Mexico had ever suffered in a major tournament, snapped a 22-match unbeaten streak and a run of 10 games without defeat to start Osorio’s reign.
That promising start included wins in Mexico’s first four World Cup qualifiers, securing a place in the final round Hexagonal with two games to spare. Yet, while Friday’s encounter in San Salvador will have no bearing on El Tri’s hopes of making it to Russia 2018, Osorio realizes it is a hugely important 90 minutes given the events of this summer.
“Beyond the three points is the great opportunity to vindicate ourselves, with the fans and all the people linked to the national team,” Osorio said in a press conference in San Salvador on Thursday. “I think the main thing is to have confidence in ourselves, we know it was a tough time we had but we can not lose that trust.
“We think that, as in life itself, it’s not about never falling, but rather standing strong as soon as possible. Expect to see the reaction of the team tomorrow. For training, for the meetings we have had, I have seen that the team again has that fighting spirit and hopefully we can show that tomorrow. If we add the quality of Mexican players, I think we will have a good game.”
Mexico will go into the match without several squad regulars, particularly in attack. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona are both sidelined through injury, as is Oribe Peralta after he broke his nose at the Olympics. Fellow attacker Hirving “Chucky” Lozano is also ruled out of the match with El Salvador after picking up a red card in Mexico’s final group game in Rio against South Korea, which saw the team crash out at the group stage.
Osorio has also lost defenders Paul Aguilar and Nester Araujo, while Diego Reyes is set to miss out after completing a transfer to Espanyol on Wednesday.
Even with that long list of absentees, Mexico should have too much for Friday’s opponent. El Salvador lost 3-0 to Mexico when the two sides met at the Estadio Azteca last November in Osorio’s first game in charge. With just two points from its first four games, El Salvador needs a victory on Friday to ensure it goes into its final fixture in Canada on Tuesday still with any hope of making it onto the Hexagonal.
Mexico and El Salvador have previously met 31 times, with El Tri coming out on top on 26 of those occasions, losing just four.