Nov 3 (Reuters) – Pessimism surrounds Mexico as they prepare for the World Cup in Qatar after inconsistency in qualifying and warm-up games.
Despite finishing second in the eight-team CONCACAF qualifiers behind Canada, Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s side have drawn criticism for the performances, with their toothless attack posing a major concern.
Mexico, who lost the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup finals to the United States last year, have averaged one goal per game in their 15 competitive and friendly matches in 2022.
“El Tri” fans and a large section of the Mexican football media continue to question their Argentine coach, who is under immense pressure to turn their fortunes around.
But Martin believes that pessimism will only motivate the team to prove the critics wrong.
“If someone is pessimistic, they should not change their opinion if this team does well in the World Cup,” Martinu said in September.
“Maybe they change their mind briefly. But, yes, the environment around the team is absolutely one of pessimism.
“I tend to believe that it strengthens the internal group. And as things go, this pessimism will make us stronger before playing a World Cup.”
Mexico will be looking to end a 36-year wait for a place in the quarter-finals, having reached the last 16 in each of the previous seven editions.
They face a severe test in Group C, where they are paired with Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Poland.
Injuries are the latest problem to threaten Mexico’s campaign in Qatar, with a number of key players sidelined.
Martino said he will make a last-minute decision on the inclusion of Raul Jimenez (groin) and Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona (fibula fracture), while Rogelio Funes Mori, Luis Romo and Jorge Sanchez they are recovering and Hector Herrera is a doubt.
With Mexico desperate for goals and short of options, all-time top goalscorer Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez could be the one to fill the void, but the LA Galaxy striker has been left out of their starting squad of 31 men despite his good form this season. .
Hernandez, who has played in three World Cups, has not earned a place in the team since 2019.
Winger Hirving Lozano, forward Alexis Vega and versatile midfielder Edson Alvarez will have to step up if Mexico are to pull off a surprise in the finals.
Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Edited by Ken Ferris
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