Monday, May 24, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup: Mexico

We preview the 2010 FIFA World Cup, set for June 11-July 11 in South Africa.

Appearance: 14th overall, fifth consecutive
Last time there: 2006, lost in second round
Best performance: Quarterfinals (1970 and 1986)

For Los Tricolores, the World Cup has always ended in disappointing fashion. The only two quarterfinal qualifications came when they hosted the event. Despite a perpetually talented squad, they haven't made it past the second round since 1986.

Mexico is determined to rewrite their World Cup history this year, and the CONCACAF runner-up might have a good shot.

Javier Aguirre took over as head coach during qualifying, after Sven-Goran Eriksson lost six of the 13 games he coached Mexico in. Aguirre immediately righted a sinking qualifying ship, leading the team to a rather easy time through the rest of qualifying.

He has a very good team to bring with him to South Africa. Veteran forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco is a leader, even though -- at 36 -- he isn't the player he used to be. Aguirre is smart enough to lean on Blanco's experience, and there's no doubt the man can still put the ball in the net.

Ricardo Osono is a strong defender who rarely panics in any situation. Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos are more-than-capable offensive players. Midfielder Andres Guardado lacks size, but he is a strong-willed playmaker who can make the middle go for Mexico.

Los Tricolores couldn't have asked for a worse draw. Put in Group A means they have to deal with host South Africa, and they get that match for the tournament opener. It's a deadly setup, as Soccer City is going to be rocking in anticipation of the first World Cup match ever in Africa.

Should Mexico get three points out of that match, they're virtually a lock to advance. Uruguay could be some trouble, but Mexico is good enough to beat them and France to go through as Group A winner.

June 11 vs. South Africa (Johannesburg -- Soccer City)
June 17 vs. France (Polokwane)
June 22 vs. Uruguay (Rustenburg)

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