Mexico have the opportunity to put their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track on Tuesday against the side where it began in such underwhelming fashion. Going into the final round of Concacaf qualifying, Mexico were expected to breeze through on the back of a new wave of talent that promised to achieve unparalleled heights. Yet the Hexagonal began with a dour 0-0 draw to unfancied Jamaica in the famed Azteca in a match where the visitors were the team with greater justification to feel aggrieved at not coming away with the win.
After two further games in the section, Mexico are still winless having also suffered draws at Honduras and at home to the United States. That streak continued in friendly action last Friday when El Tri played out a 2-2 draw with Nigeria in Houston. Yet, having been reduced to 10 men for more than an hour, it was a far more encouraging performance from Jose Manuel de la Torre’s side. That should provide a much needed boost, with the trip to Jamaica staring an eight day spell in which they will also meet Panama and Costa Rica in matches that will go a long way to deciding their fate.
Javier Hernandez, who scored both goals against Nigeria to take his tally for his country to 32, is well aware of what’s at stake. “We’ve got no option but to win,” he said, according to FIFA’s website. Yet the Manchester United frontman has capable that his squad has what it takes. “Whenever results haven’t gone our way the side has stuck together and looked ahead.”
De la Torre will have a full squad at his disposal with Giovani dos Santos having joined the team after Mallorca won the tug of war and got the attacking midfielder to play for them on the final day of the Liga season on Saturday. Defender Hector Moreno has returned to fitness.
The match is no less crucial for Jamaica, which sits bottom of the Hexagonal having followed up the encouraging draw with Mexico with a point at home to Panama and a defeat in Costa Rica. With the U.S. visiting Kingston on Friday, Theodore Whitmore’s side will have to produce something special to avoid slipping out of contention.
D: Mariappa, Gordon, Powell, Woodbine
M: Elliot, Austin, Watson, McCleary
F: Johnson, Hue
D: Meza, Moreno, Rodriguez, Salcido
M: Herrera, Torrado
Barrera, Dos Santos, Guardado
Prediction: There will be much interest in De la Torre’s selection after he changed things up with some success against Nigeria. Carlos Salcido reverted to left-back from his defensive midfield role and it could be beneficial to keep things that way with the veteran offering little in midfield when the onus is on El Tri to attack as it will be against Jamaica. De la Torre also went with a two-man frontline, but he may be tempted to switch back to Hernandez up front on his own with Dos Santos back available.
Jamaica gave Mexico plenty of problems at the Azteca not only on frustrating them defensively but hitting the hosts on the counter. But Mexico could benefit with Jamaica having more onus on them to go forward at home and El Tri should pick up a much-needed win.
Jamaica 1-2 Mexico
Where to watch: The World Cup qualifier will kick-off from Independence Park at 9.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Telemundo, with a live stream available on Telemundo.com.