Head coach Leonardo Cuellar (pictured) led Mexico to a spot in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup by guiding the Tricolor to a third-place finish in the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)
CHESTER, Pennsylvania -- With slightly more than seven months to the kickoff of the FIFA Women's World Cup (WWC), Mexico has time to make some vital improvements.
Getting off to better starts could be at the top of head coach Leonardo Cuellar's training agenda.
The Mexicans found the opening stages of three 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship games to be a challenge. They conceded an eighth minute goal in a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, fell behind in a 3-1 win over Jamaica, and struggled early during Sunday’s 4-2 extra-time victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the third-place match before taking a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute.
"The beginning of every half has been a problem for us," Cuellar said. "An early goal by Costa Rica and then Jamaica. Even in this game (match for third place) that we went ahead, we scored first, the first 15 minutes Trinidad & Tobago was better. There was something we needed to correct immediately. We were not ready for the battle. We were not ready to compete.”
Cuellar hopes to have many opportunities to put the Tricolor on the right track ahead of Canada 2015. Mexico will hold a training camp with about two-thirds of the current roster attending.
"That will give some us some kind of continuity," he noted.
There are plans for a trip to China in January, the Cyprus Cup in March with fellow WWC qualifiers Australia, England, Canada and Korea Republic, as well as friendlies leading up to the finals.
"We're going to try to take advantage of the FIFA dates and travel and have teams come to Mexico that they might be interested on the way to Canada or if they are playing Canada before,” Cuellar added. “The budget is there. We already anticipated that. That's why it was imperative for us to qualify, not to lose all the funding that we have."
Cuellar said he was "definitely" relieved to earn a third-ever berth after also guiding Mexico to the 1999 and 2011 WWCs.
"When you coach a national team and when you also are in charge of a program, you always have your job on the line," the 60-year-old finished. "It could be very difficult to go back to Mexico without a ticket."