In the past 18 months, Mexico have established themselves as the undisputed top team in CONCACAF, and now comes the time to demonstrate that superiority as the final round of World Cup qualifying begins.
Mexico won a perfect six out of six in their semi-final round group and on paper should have little problem finishing in the top three of the six-team hexagonal. After claiming the Gold Cup with a demolition of the United States 18 months ago and having since gone on to capture Olympic gold in London last summer, while also holding the Under-17 World Cup title, the future looks brighter ever before for El Tri.
But first the business has to be done on the pitch and that starts with the visit of Jamaica on Wednesday.
One of their star men Giovani dos Santos is looking for a good performance against the Caribbean nation to get the campaign underway in style.
“We’ve got a great generation of players, who have been tasting success wherever they’ve gone,” he told FIFA.com. “As we head into our opening Hexagonal fixture, we’re full of confidence. Hopefully we can start with a win and set the tone for what’s to follow. I think we have what it takes to have a great year.”
It is a daunting prospect for Jamaica, not only coming up against a strong Mexican side but playing in the Estadio Azteca, which has only ever witnessed one home defeat in World Cup qualifiers. Theodore Whitmore is looking to lead his country to only their second World Cup finals appearance, the first coming in 1998 when he was a part of the team.
Like in 1998, Jamaica have called on a number of English-born players, such as Reading trio Jobi McAnuff, Adrian Mariappa and Gareth McCleary.
D: Meza, Moreno, Rodriguez, Torres Nilo
M: Salcido, Herrera
Dos Santos, Fabian, Guardado
D: Nosworthy, Mariappa, Taylor, Phillips
M: McAnuff, Austin, Morrison, Richards
F: Johnson, McCleary
Prediction: Having recruited a number of players of late from England, it remains to be seen how quickly they can gel into an effective team. Even if the accomplish that, Mexico have far greater quality and, playing at home, should grab a comfortable opening win.
Mexico 3-0 Jamaica
Where to watch: The World Cup qualifier will kick-off from the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City at 9.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2, with a live stream available on ESPN3.