Goalkeeper Gibran Lajud (pictured), shown in training with Club Tijuana, is eager to help Mexico return to the Olympic Games. (Photo: Mexsport)
CARSON, California -- Mexico is known for having goalkeeping depth. From Ochoa and Corona to Talavera and Muñoz, the Tricolor is blessed with quality custodians.
The same could be said for the nation’s under-23 team that is preparing to compete in the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. Head coach Raul Gutierrez’s side defense of its title against Costa Rica on Friday at the StubHub Center.
There is no doubt Mexico will have a more than capable goalkeeper when it comes out against the Ticos.
FC Porto’s Raul Gudiño could be the favorite to start. The 19-year-old, who finished second to the USA’s Tim Howard in the 2013 CONCACAF Goalkeeper of the Year vote, wasn’t at Mexico’s practice Thursday morning, but was set join his teammates later in the evening.
If it is not Gudiño in goal, Club Tijuana’s Gibran Lajud is in line to be featured. The Mexico City-native has been at every camp leading into the qualifiers, winning gold with Mexico in the 2014 Central American & Caribbean Games and silver in the 2015 Pan American Games.
Lajud will be prepared in the event of all circumstances.
“This is a great opportunity to keep growing at a personal level and as a team,” the 21-year-old expressed. “The goal is clear and that is to help this team defend the gold medal that my colleagues was won four years ago. If that means being with the starters, then I will do my job.”
Early success has only heightened his desire for more trophies.
“I am honestly very excited to be here,” finished Lajud. “You can say this is just another call up, but it’s my first time in Olympic qualifiers. It’s something extra, something very motivating to be part of my national team in this important tournament. This will motivate me more to work harder.
“Our national team has had great goalkeepers, so I have to live up to expectations. I am very grateful with our coach for this opportunity, to be on this team and be able to represent my country.”