Head coach Juan Carlos Osorio (pictured) has Mexico unbeaten after eight games in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Luis Licona/Straffon Images)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – After two matches to kick off the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Mexico (1W-1D-0L, 4 points) is unbeaten and tied for second place in the table with Panama (1-1-0, 4), two points behind Costa Rica (2-0-0, 6).
What makes the Tricolor’s start even more impressive is that both of its games were played on the road – a 2-1 at the USA on November 11 and a 0-0 draw Tuesday at Panama. None of the other five teams have played more than one game away. Both of Honduras’ matches were contested at home.
At this point in the Hexagonal for Brazil 2014, Mexico accumulated two points (0-0 home draw v Jamaica, 2-2 away draw v Honduras) on the way to finishing fourth and needing to beat New Zealand in a playoff in order to book a ticket to a sixth straight World Cup finals.
“We think that it is a good point,” Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio said after the Panama stalemate. “If we add the three points earned against the United States, with two matches away, I think it is a good start.
“Within our plans, it’s considered that points can be achieved playing away and from that we’re going to have a healthy qualifying campaign. We think it was a good start. We leave satisfied and with a lot of optimism that the management of achieving our objectives has started well and that the players go with the confidence that we can continue getting points.”
Osorio has enjoyed a successful first year as Mexico’s manager, posting an overall 11-3-1 record, while going 6-2-0 in qualifying.
“It has been a very positive year,” concluded the 55-year-old Colombian. “This call-up, especially, we enjoyed a lot. It was very productive. For the first time, we had the 13 players from Europe and Giovani dos Santos. Today, the ones that played contributed and once again generated internal competition in the team. We hope that they return to their clubs, continue being influential, play and for the next call-up we hope to have something similar.
Mexico resumes World Cup Qualifying on March 24, when it hosts Costa Rica.