In his first match since the Mexican Federation (FMF) announced that he will remain as national team coach, Jose Manuel de la Torre will lead out his side against Ivory Coast knowing that he needs an immediate upturn in results, and performances, to ensure that it was not just a temporary reprieve.
After and unexpectedly stuttering run in World Cup qualifying that leaves Mexico’s place in Brazil next year still very much in doubt, El Tri fell in the semifinals of the Gold Cup having suffered defeat to Panama for the second time in the competition. Add in an uninspiring Confederations Cup performance in between and it is hardly a glowing resume that De la Torre has amassed at the helm of a side that many thought capable of making a major impact at the World Cup.
Yet, De la Torre was attempting to project an air of confidence before the contest with Ivory Coast at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. “Mexico is going to qualify, it is the obligation we have and we’re going to fulfill it,” he said, according to Goal.com.
De la Torre believes his selection for the match shows that he is trying to remedy the problems, however the inclusion of Argentina-born duo Christian Gimenez and Damian Alvarez could instead lead him to face further criticism.
Ivory Coast find themselves in an altogether more comfortable position in World Cup qualifying having already secured a berth in the final round of playoffs. Still, that method of qualification featuring a two-legged playoff potentially against another African superpower is fraught with the possibility of upsets and coach Sabri Lamouchi will be eager for his side to maintain a high level.
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With that in mind, Lamouchi has recalled 35-year-old Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba. The Galatasaray veteran has not been selected since his country’s latest failure at the African Cup of Nations in January. Manchester City’s Yaya Toure will miss out through injury, although new Swansea City signing Wilfried Bony is included, as are squad debutants Zoro Cyriac Gohi Bi from Anderlecht and Malaga midfielder Bobley Anderson.
D: Layun, Moreno, Rodriguez, Torres Nilo
M: Zavala, Torrado
Fabian, Dos Santos, Montes
Ivory Coast (probable)
D: Aurier, Bamba, Boka, Darrassouba
M: Gervinho, Tiote, Razak, Sio
F: Kalou, Drogba
Prediction: While De la Torre is preaching optimism, his selection of two Argentina-born players with a combined age of 66 whiffs rather more of panic. It also hardly shows faith in what is a promising generation of young talent that he has thus far failed so calamitously to begin to get the best out of. It is hard to imagine anything changing for this friendly contest, with the best Mexico is likely to be able to muster against what is a still more than adequate Ivory Coast side being an uninspiring draw.