Mexico readies for Honduras challenge
With Omar Bravo and Jonny Magallon rejoining the group, the Mexican national team practices got started Monday for CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifying.
Mexico faces its first must-win match of the year when the team takes on Honduras in San Pedro Sula. The second match is set for March 26 with Mexico hosting the United States at Estadio Azteca. Panama will play Honduras also on March 26.
"We see this match as motivation to once again take up what we have done well," said Mexico national team coach Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre. "In all matches there is pressure, but this is not life or death. However, it will trace our future path, in terms of points."
Honduras beat the U.S. at home 2-1 in the last set of CONCACAF matches, while Mexico hosted Jamaica and played to a 0-0 draw.
Three World Cup spots are at stake in the six-team, 10-match Hexagonal tournament, and a fourth 2014 berth will go to the winner of a two-game playoff between the fourth-place Hexagonal finisher and a team from Oceania.
Manchester United forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez said the team is determined to win, especially after the disappointing 0-0 draw vs. Jamaica.
"In our minds this match is much more than just another qualifier because we want the three points," he said Monday. "Obviously, we feel the need to avenge the match against Jamaica by a good result.
"We are only thinking about Honduras, in our minds we are focusing on that match and nothing else," he said.
El Tri has not beaten Honduras in qualifying matches on Honduras' home turf since 1993.
"More than just worrying about how much time has passed since we beat them or not, the most important thing is to get those three points. We will be playing against a good national team in its own home stadium."
Carlos Pena, of Leon, will be playing for the second time under De la Torre as he was called up following an injury to forward Oribe Peralta.
After the first round of qualifying, Honduras leads the standings with three points, followed by Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica and México with one each and the United States in last place with no points.
The complete team includes goalkeepers Jose de Jesus Corona, Guillermo Ochoa and Alfredo Talavera. The defense includes Severo Meza, Jonny Magallon, Francisco Javier Rodriguez, Hector Moreno, Hugo Ayala, Diego Reyes, Jorge Torres Nilo and Carlos Salcido.
Midfielders are Jesus Zavala, Gerardo Torrado, Jesus Molina, Hector Herrera and Carlos Pena, Javier Aquino, Andres Guardado, Angel Reyna and Giovani Dos santos, as well as forwards Javier Hernandez, Omar Bravo and Raul Alonso Jiménez.
Information from ESPN Deportes reporters Ricardo Carino and Graciela Resendiz was used in this report.