Oribe Peralta (pictured) celebrates with the gold medal after Mexico defeated Brazil in the Olympic final on August 11, 2012, in London, England. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY – Mexico will be relying on a gold medalist in a bid to retain its Olympic crown.
On Thursday, under-23 national team head coach Raul Gutierrez announced his 18-player roster for Rio 2016. Forward Oribe Peralta, who led the Tricolor to the 2012 title with four goals – including both in a 2-1 victory over Brazil in the final, was one of three overage selected for the side. Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera and Tigres defender Jorge Torres Nilo were the others.
Gutierrez guided Mexico to top honors at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He believes the talent at his disposal is more than capable of a repeat.
“I always said since we took on this process that the main idea was to validate the gold medal,” said Gutierrez. “Before reaching the Olympics, we couldn’t talk about a medal because we hadn’t won a spot. We think we have a capable team of quality that comes in well reinforced and can make us dream.”
Mexico earned an Olympic berth after winning the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, defeating Honduras, 2-0, in the final. Pachuca’s Hirving Lozano was named the Golden Ball winner in that competition and was also selected for the current squad.
The Mexicans will integrate the trio of veteran additions during a training camp that includes a friendly against visiting Argentina on July 28 in Puebla.
“We are content and happy with these reinforcements because we are sure that they are the ones we need,” Gutierrez finished. “The upcoming training camp is to take a starting point so the players get to know each other. Knowing that they have a competitive spirit leaves us feeling calm with respect to their roles and we’re thinking about defending that medal.”
Mexico will face Group C rival Germany to open Olympic play on August 4 at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador.
GOALKEEPERS: Gibran Lajud (Club Tijuana), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
DEFENDERS: Jose Javier Abella (Santos), Erick Aguirre (Pachuca), Cesar Montes (Monterrey), Carlos Salcedo (Guadalajara), Jordan Silva (Toluca), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres)
MIDFIELDERS: Carlos Cisneros (Guadalajara), Rodolfo Pizarro (Pachuca), Víctor Guzman (Pachuca), Erick Gutierrez (Pachuca), Michael Perez (Guadalajara), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Alfonso Gonzalez (Monterrey)
FORWARDS: Oribe Peralta (Club America), Erick Torres (Houston Dynamo/USA), Marco Bueno (Guadalajara)