Hirving Lozano (pictured), winner of the Golden Ball at the 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship, is a rising star for Mexico. (Photo: Mexsport)
VANCOUVER, Canada -- Mexico is a team accustomed to being tagged as a favorite in nearly every match it contests. As a result, the current CONCACAF Gold Cup champion is well aware that such a label means that it will get the best an opponent has to offer at all times.
The Tricolor has settled in Vancouver for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Canada and is looking to maintain a perfect record in Group A. The table topper knows, however, that the second-place Canadians have undergone a recent revival by securing four points from their first two fourth-round outings. The North American rivals will also meet on March 29 in Mexico City.
“For a qualifier game, as far as we are concerned, we are in front of a very good team that’s very well trained,” Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio said in a press conference Tuesday. “Hopefully our players match our expectations. We came here with the idea of two games that can help us reach our main goal and, hopefully, we can make steps forward to achieve all of them.”
As many would expect, Mexico is in a comfortable position after wins over El Salvador and Honduras in November.
In addition to booking an early ticket to the final round of qualifying, the upcoming pair of matches are an opportunity to achieve positive results, while at the same time trying to get some young players experience.
“It is a great opportunity to build a strategy for our team,” commented Osorio. “Canada is a very structured team and a good opponent. In preparation they are particularly strong defensively, so it is not only an opportunity, but it is a great challenge for us.”
While Osorio called in midfielders Hirving Lozano (20) and Orbelin Pineda (19), veteran striker Oribe Peralta (32) was notably left off the roster.
Although the exclusion proved to be a buzzing topic of conversation, Osorio expressed that the personnel moves reflected his plan to inject new blood into the squad and distribute the responsibility to a younger generation of competitors.