Mexico head coach Miguel Herrera (right) implores his team during the first leg of the CONCACAF/Oceania intercontinental playoff against visiting New Zealand on November 13, 2013, at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY – Mexico took a sizeable step towards a sixth consecutive World Cup appearance with a 5-1 win over visiting New Zealand on Wednesday in the first leg of the CONCACAF/Oceania intercontinental playoff.
Miguel Herrera, El Tri’s fourth head coach during this qualifying cycle, was noticeably pleased with his team’s performance in such a pressure-filled match.
“I am happy about the performance, for the players, because they did an exceptional job,” beamed the 45-year-old at the Estadio Azteca afterwards. “They give everything and we had a lot of opportunities, we struck from middle distance, we got in front of goal, the dead balls for us were also important. It was all-around for us in every sense.”
With a discernible focus on the second leg, the Mexicans did not wait around for the post-match celebration. In fact, they are already in Sydney, Australia, where they will stay before departing for New Zealand on Saturday.
The physical toll of such a long trip could negatively impact some players, so Herrera says he wants to hold off on announcing his next starting lineup.
“We are going to see how the boys feel, tomorrow is going to be a really long trip, exhausting,” Herrera noted in Mexico City. “We are going to see how the fatigue is, I could tell you that I would love to repeat the same team because it did so well, but we are going to wait until Monday to see how they all are and then we’ll decide who will be the ones to start.”
For the return leg, even though a scoreless draw would see Mexico through to Brazil 2014, Herrera is adamant that Mexico will take the field in search of goals and look to win the match.
“We are going to go for the game there,” affirmed Herrera. “We are going to take it as if we are starting this like it’s zero to zero and we are going to go looking to score a goal.
“I see myself returning on the 21st with the World Cup ticket.”
The two sides will meet again on November 20 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.