Mexico, Antigua & Barbuda look to build at CU20

Mexico goalkeeper Fernando Hernandez (orange jersey) pulls in a high ball against Antigua & Barbuda in a CONCACAF Under-20 Championship match in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica, on February 17, 2017. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Straffon Images)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Friday’s Group A encounter between Mexico and Antigua and Barbuda featured two goalkeepers who had very different experiences in their countries’ first games at the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.

On one side stood Fernando Hernandez, who didn’t see much action but still had to be alert once or twice, for the highly fancied Mexico. On the other, there was Christian Corbett, who faced near constant pressure with Antigua putting in a much better second-half display after conceding three times in the first.

“We knew that all CONCACAF teams are tough,” said Hernandez. “We had to focus on our game. We took almost all the chances that we could and we played a great game.”

With Antigua back at the CONCACAF U-20 event for the first time since 1986, Corbett faced 17 shots and performed admirably against the nation that has won this competition a record 13 times.

His best save came in the 54th minute, when he thwarted Eduardo Aguirre’s penalty kick. By holding Mexico scoreless in the second half, the Benna Boys will have something on which to build against Honduras on Monday.

“They’re really good technically. They keep the ball well, they’re strong with it,” Corbett said in praise of Mexico. “They have good passing…everything. We knew it was going to be a tough game, but you’ve just got to put it aside since it’s not the result we wanted.”

Hernandez admitted that Mexico didn’t know too much about Antigua, crediting the Caribbean runner-up for a strong physical game that managed to keep Mexico’s silky technical game off balance in stretches.

Mexico will face a Canadian team that is also something of a mystery. The Tricolor, though, will be sure to study Canada’s 1-0 loss to Honduras in the two days between games.

“We know barely nothing,” Hernandez said of Canada. “We’re going to try our way of play, but we know that it’s going to be a tough one.”