Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio will hand his fringe players a chance to stake a claim for bigger challenges ahead when taking on Senegal in a friendly in Miami on Wednesday. With the match falling outside of FIFA’s international match window, Osorio has been limited to players currently operating in Liga MX.
It means there is no place for the likes of Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, Hector Herrera and Jesús “Tecatito” Corona. Instead there are first call-ups for Pachuca duo Hirving Lozano and Erick Gutiérrez, as well as Monterrey’s Cándido Ramírez. Also likely to get plenty of attention are fellow young duo Rodolfo Pizarro and Chivas center-back Carlos Salcedo.
“For us this group is excellent, with players that are established in Mexican soccer and some that promise to have an extraordinary future,” Osorio said in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“I think the main objective, as we told them is that this group is selected in the following squads, we firmly believe that the best chance to improve Mexican soccer is to make internal competition is increasingly more difficult and hard fought.”
Osorio suggested that there would be a starting role for twice-capped center-back Yasser Corona, with either Salcedo or Santo Laguna’s Néstor Araújo lining up alongside him. There will also be an opportunity to impress between the sticks. With Alfredo Talavera, Moisés Muñoz and Guillermo Ochoa not present, either Jesús Corona or Alejandro Palacios will get the start. Corona, 35, has fallen out of favor after a dip in form with Cruz Azul, while Pumas’ Palacios could now make his debut at the age of 34.
For Osorio, there will be a desire to continue the momentum created from a strong start to his reign. Under the Colombian, El Tri has won both its opening World Cup qualifiers, at home to El Salvador and away at Honduras, where Mexico had not won for 22 years. The campaign to make it to Concacaf’s final round Hexagonal resumes next month, with a double-header against Canada, before attention turns to this summer’s Copa America Centenario in the United States.
Mexico’s opponents on Wednesday will be a Senegal side that, like Mexico, has been limited to players drawn from their domestic league. That means there will be no appearances from high-profile European-based players, like Southampton’s Sadio Mané , Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Stoke City’s Mame Biram Diouf and West Ham duo Cheikhou Kouyaté and Diafra Sakho.
Instead the squad called up by Aliou Cissé features a host of young, inexperienced players, with the one recognizable face possibly 35-year-old Mody Traoré, who previously place in France’s Ligue 1 with Valenciennes. Reflecting the makeup of the squad, the team will be led both by Cissé, who took over as coach last year, and the coach of the domestic-based national team that competes in the African Nations Championship, Moustapha Seck.
Mexico and Senegal have only met once before in a senior international, with Mexico winning 1-0 just ahead of the 2010 World Cup. They also met at Under-23 level in the 2012 Olympics in London, when Mexico beat Senegal 4-2 in the quarterfinals en route to landing the gold medal.
Kickoff time: 8 p.m. EST
TV channel: Fox Sports 1, UniMás,Univision Deportes