Juan Carlos Osorio (pictured) has guided Mexico to maximum points from two, fourth round World Cup qualifiers. (Photo: Mexsport)
MIAMI – The route to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup started smoothly for Mexico in November, when it opened the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying with shutout wins over El Salvador (3-0) and Honduras (2-0).
Although it tops the Group A table by two points, the Tricolor is expecting that road become somewhat more bumpy. Next on the schedule is a pair of matches in March against second-place Canada, a side that is unbeaten (1W-1D-0L, 4 points) and has yet to concede a goal.
“Very good team,” said Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio in reference to the Canadians, crediting much of their improvement to Benito Floro, its manager. "Mr. Floro, football man, ex-Real Madrid…that means that he has managed top players.
“I think he has brought to Canada a better organization in the way they play.”
Floro guided Real Madrid from 1992-1994 and was appointed to Canada’s top post in 2013.
Last year, under the Spaniard’s leadership, the Canadians lost only twice in 14 outings (6W-6D-2L), allowing one goal or less in their last 13 games.
Those numbers -- and the performances that produced them -- impressed Osorio.
“As far as the team, I think they have a great goalkeeper,” he noted about custodian Milan Borjan. “The defenders are very strong, very good in the air.”
The Mexicans will first visit Canada on March 25 in Vancouver and then will host the return match four days later.
“I expect to have two different games,” stressed the 54-year-old Colombian. “He (Floro) will probably plan for the two of them like we do. They will be a very difficult team to beat, but I expect that it will also be difficult for them.
“We'll be ready for those two games.”
The North American rivals last met in a World Cup qualifier on October 15, 2008, a 2-2 draw in Edmonton.