Mexico (left) and Panama (right) will meet in a crucial World Cup qualifier on October 11, 2013, at the Estadio Azteca. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY – Mexico will be looking for its first win at home in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, when it hosts Panama on Friday at the Estadio Azteca.
Both teams come into the ninth matchday with eight points, but the Panamanians are ahead in fourth place on a tiebreaker by virtue of scoring more goals (they are equal on goal difference at minus-2). Third-place Honduras has eleven points and destiny in its own hands; if it obtains for points in the last two matches, it will qualify for Brazil 2014 regardless of any other results.
It will also mark the first match for the Tricolor under new national team head coach Victor Manuel Vucetich, who took the reins last month. He knows that his squad faces an almost “must win” situation, but it can’t afford to be distracted by outside sentiments.
"We have to be focused on sport and not be worrying about everything else which generates around the team, our role is specifically sports and we are dedicated to doing things right, and we have to do them,” the former Monterrey chief analyzed.
Mexico and Panama have squared off three times this year with the Canaleros emerging unbeaten from those encounters. They defeated Mexico by the same 2-1 scoreline twice at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and battled to a scoreless draw in a qualifier last June in Panama City.
In their previous eight all-time meetings, Mexico won on five occasions and the other three games ended in a tie.
Vucetich, though, is not thinking about the past or Panama’s recent success in their series, especially since the Mexican roster at the Gold Cup contrasts significantly from the current version.
"It will be different, they are different players, both players from Panama and ours,” noted the 58-year-old. “We know well the players who are participating with them. In that sense, it is easier for us to understand their game than they ours.”
And that is what will make this match-up even more compelling.