Raul Jimenez (left) and Oribe Peralta (right) will be paired up front, when Mexico hosts New Zealand in the first leg of their CONCACAF/Oceania intercontinental playoff on November 13, 2013, at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY – Starting Wednesday, Mexico will look to seize the lifeline it was given to earn a place at next year’s World Cup, when it meets visiting New Zealand at the Estadio Azteca in the first leg of the CONCACAF/Oceania intercontinental playoff.
Once the opening whistle blows, Miguel Herrera will become the fourth head coach to lead the Tricolor in a qualifier for Brazil 2014. On Tuesday, he revealed his starting XI, which includes a strike pairing of Oribe Peralta and Raul Jiménez.
“I am going to start Raul for the mobility that he gives us,” said Herrera, explaining his decision. “What we need here is that, the altitude factor can hurt them and if we have forwards that can make their defenders run, we will be able to open them up.”
Herrera also revelaed that Club America’s Moises Muñoz will make his first-ever start in a World Cup Qualifying match.
“I decided on Moi because he manages the system well,” noted Herrera, who coached the 33-year-old shot-stopper at Club America. “We have two years playing with him. Of course, for the system’s best Management, we are going with Moises.”
Mexico, according to the former Atlante star defender, will line-up against New Zealand this way: Moisés Muñoz in goal; a back line of Paul Aguilar, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Rafael Márquez, Francisco Javier Rodríguez and Miguel Layún; Juan Carlos Medina will play in midfield, while Carlos Peña and Luis Montes will be the wingers; Jiménez and Peralta are up front.
The sides have only met on three previous occasions, but two of those encounters came in the last four years. Mexico won the most recent matches (2010: 2-0 in Pasadena, California; 2011: 3-0 in Denver, Colorado), while the All Whites emerged victorious once (1980: 4-0 in Auckland).
"New Zealand is not going to be an easy match,” Herrera added. “They are people of great size, very clear style of play. We want to facilitate it inside of the field. We are not confident, at no time is this rival going to be an easy team.”
The second leg will be played on November 20 in Wellington, New Zealand.