Mexico will begin the post-Miguel Herrera era and the start of their preparations for a crunch Confederations Cup playoff with the United States next month when taking on Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly on Friday. Herrera overcame plenty of travails to lead Mexico to the Gold Cup trophy in July, and secure a chance to go to Russia in 2017. But his subsequent altercation with a commentator has left El Tri to again head back to square one under a new coach.
When he was appointed, Herrera was the fourth man to take charge in 2013 alone. Having rebuilt the confidence of the side and regained the public’s faith in them during a positive World Cup showing, it appeared that Mexico might have a coach that could take El Tri forward for the long term. Instead, the charismatic former Club América coach gradually began to lose the good will held toward him both with the team’s performance on the pitch and his behavior away from it.
The weight of expectation, for the next four games at least, now rests with Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti. Combining the role with continuing to coach Liga MX side Tigres, the Brazilian-born Ferretti has agreed to take the reins until Mexico begins World Cup qualifying in November.
Already he has caused a stir. In his squad for the match with Trinidad, and subsequent friendly against Argentina on Tuesday, Ferretti surprisingly omitted both Giovani dos Santos and his brother Jonathan. Given that the siblings had tweeted their support for Herrera after the physical altercation that saw him dismissed, speculation immediately abounded that they had been excluded on disciplinary grounds. Ferretti claims that assessment is wide of the mark.
“I have the right to choose a group and you [the media] have the right to criticize it,” Ferretti said at his pre-match press conference. “I can’t decide if you all will be in favor or against the players being selected, that is just a right you have. Before the roster was announced I said that some of you would feel like the players selected should not have been, and at the same time that others not on the team should have been called up.
“But I will tell you this there are no discipline issues with any of the players not selected. Maybe in the future I'll change the list and there will be another controversy, it is very normal.”
While Ferretti didn’t rule out the Dos Santos brothers coming back into the squad, he did reveal that 90 percent of those players involved for these friendlies will feature again in the party to take on the U.S. at the Rose Bowl in California. Still, Ferretti has not got all the players he wanted at his disposal for Friday’s match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
Oribe Peralta, Luis Montes and Francisco “Maza” Rodríguez all withdrew with injuries, while Javier “Chicharito” Hernández will miss out against Trinidad having turned out for new club Bayer Leverkusen in a friendly on Wednesday. And Jesús “Tecatito” Corona won’t feature in either game due to immigration complications following his transfer to Porto.
On Friday, Mexico will be hoping for a better showing than in a rollercoaster 4-4 draw with Trinidad and Tobago at this year’s Gold Cup. The result, in which Mexico gave away a 2-0 lead and a 4-3 advantage in injury time, saw Trinidad top the group ahead of their more favored opponents.
This time around, Trinidad will be missing one of the stars of that performance, striker Kenwyne Jones, as well as defender Sheldon Bateau. But head coach Stephen Hart does have experienced goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams back available, after recovering from an injury that ended his Gold Cup in the second group match. And the 30-year-old believes the match with Mexico will provide vital preparation ahead of Trinidad trying to reach their second ever World Cup.
“We all know what Mexico are capable of,” he said, according to the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian. “I think the result in the last game and the way we showed up against them, in a way spoiling it for them, will make them more aware of us and they will want to show their class.
“But we have been making good progress and we will be looking to continue that in this game. We will not be intimidated and I think this is where matches like this play a vital role in preparing us for the games we will play in the qualifiers. We have to be able to stand strongly against any opponent under any conditions.”
Kickoff time: 10 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Univision Deportes, UniMás