Victor Manuel Vucetich (pictured) was presented as the new head coach of Mexico at a September 12, 2013, press conference. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY – The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) announced Thursday that it has appointed Victor Manuel Vucetich as head coach of its men’s national team. He replaces Luis Fernando Tena, who led the team for one game on an interim basis – Tuesday’s 2-0 World Cup Qualifying loss at the United States – after Jose Manuel de la Torre was let go following a 2-1 setback at home to Honduras on September 6.
Those results have left Mexico in a precarious position heading into the last two matchdays of the CONCACAF Hexagonal. El Tri is even with Panama in fourth place on eight points, but the Central Americans currently hold the advantage on the most goals scored tiebreaker.
The United States (16 points) and Costa Rica (15 points) have already secured berths at Brazil 2014, while third-place Honduras (11 points) has a grip on the confederation’s last automatic spot.
FMF President Justino Compean revealed the choice at a press conference, saying: “We worked step by step, we are in an extremely difficult and complex situation, and we thought, deliberated, to ask Professor Victor Manuel Vucetich to become technical director of the national team.”
Vucetich, who was fired last month Monterrey after leading it to the last three CONCACAF Champions League titles, inherits a side that is winless in its last four qualifiers. He realizes, though, that the first priority is to develop a plan ahead of qualifiers at home against Panama on October 11 and then away to Costa Rica four days later.
"Right now, there is a very serious commitment towards these two games,” said the 58-year-old. “Then we’ll see whether or not we progress directly by virtue of the results.”
Though Mexico remains in contention for a place in the top three, a fourth-place finish will send it into a two-legged Intercontinental Playoff against Oceania winner New Zealand.
"On the analysis of the points, we know that there is some complexity, but in football anything is possible,” Vucetich added. “I believe that we have the conviction, we have to carry out the next two games in the best possible way…that is to win the six points.”
Vucetich has five Mexican first division crowns with four different teams to go along with his unprecedented Champions League success. Nonetheless, he stated that the next 180 minutes with Mexico will be “the biggest challenge of my career, definitely."
A test that all of Mexico hopes will conclude with a sixth straight trip to the World Cup.