MEXICO CITY - The start of any new journey is almost always accompanied by assorted emotions of excitement, anxiety and expectancy.
In football, when a team has experienced as much success as Mexico has over the last few years, the players and coaching staff must continually unearth ways to offset the pitfalls of overconfidence and complacency.
Fortunately for El Tri, as the 2013 season kicks off on Wednesday with a friendly against Denmark in Glendale, Arizona, it can balance the sport's extreme sensations with an element that is not enjoyed by every national selection: an extraordinary level of competition for roster places among a large group of increasingly talented players.
With the first qualifier of the CONCACAF Hexagonal looming only a week away, you can be sure that the entire squad will be looking to impress head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre during training and on the University of Phoenix Stadium pitch against the Europeans.
Goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo, who plays with current Mexican champion Tijuana, is hoping to win his first international cap and realizes that there is competition for spots in the starting 11 at every position.
"Not only in goal is there competition, it is on all the lines," said the 31-year-old. "I come to do my job as best as possible and hopefully I can meet the expectations.
"I'm very happy, grateful, for me, it's exciting and I thank God for what is happening to me this year."
Angel Reyna knows the importance of Wednesday's match and what it could portend for the February 6 qualifier against Jamaica.
"It is a preparation match, we must gain an advantage, keep working," commented the Pachuca forward. "This game gives you a lot of experience, we continue on a line, the essence with which our Mexican team is known."
One of the most experienced players, Tigres' Carlos Salcido (105 international appearances), knows that the only way to develop and obtain good results is by hard work.
"You always work in order to improve situations, tournaments, games and all the time you are preparing to get better," analyzed the former PSV Eindhoven standout. "Your abilities will give you the guide to be a better player so you have to expand your objectives, try to work and things will go very well."
Club America's Jesus Molina agrees that there is a strong internal competition within the panel: "Yes, of course, is a very good competition, I see a renewed selection, which has been working well, getting important things and hope that Mexico continues growing."
That growth starts once again with an encounter against an eager Denmark side that easily overcame Canada 4-0 on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.
According to FIFA records, Wednesday's meeting will be the fourth official game between the teams and first since a 1-1 draw in 1995 at the Intercontinental Cup (now known as the FIFA Confederations Cup) in Saudi Arabia (each national association claims some additional games not officially recognized by the world's governing body). Each team posted a win in two friendlies in 1969.
The hard work for Mexico commences on Wednesday, but the ultimate results won't be known until well into the future.