Keen to set record straight

Team in focus Mexico: Aguirres wards look to end first knockout round jinx in SA

Keen to set record straight

Full of hope: Mexico will have to survive a tough Group A that also includes France and Uruguay to make their mark. AFP

To defy the past and reach the longed-for fifth match, Mexico will field a blend of under-17 World Cup winners and veterans with great experience. Despite the confidence of coach Javier Aguirre and his squad, given the past failings and Mexico's group in South Africa, success is by no means certain.

Awaiting the 'Tricolor' in Group A are hosts South Africa and past winners France and Uruguay, but Aguirre is not worried.

"Although we have two World Cup champions in our group, I don't believe in the weight of history when the time comes to take to the pitch," Aguirre said in December after the groups were drawn. Now the 51-year-old, nicknamed 'The Basque', wants to take Mexico to the quarterfinals for only the second time since 1986. "At the last four World Cups we've been on the cusp of the quarterfinals and reaching the last eight has now become more of an obsession than a goal," Aguirre

Mexico's best outing in 13 World Cups came at the 1986 edition when, as hosts, they reached the quarterfinals only to lose to West Germany. They also reached the last eight as hosts in 1970 when the quarterfinals were the first knockout round.

This time Aguirre has called up veterans such as goalkeeper Oscar Perez, defender Rafael Marquez, midfielder Gerardo Torrado and forward Cuauhtemoc Blanco, all of whom will play their third World Cup if they make the final squad to be named on June 1.
This experience should help to guide the talented youngsters in the squad, several of whom were in the side that won the 2005 under-17 World Cup in Peru by beating Brazil in the final.

"I have the best ever young generation of footballers, they won the under-17 World Cup. Add that to our experienced players and I feel this team is ready to make history," he added at a news conference.  Aguirre will employ a 4-4-2 formation in South Africa, where Marquez is the defensive leader, Torrado is ball-winning, hard-tackling midfielder and Blanco the skilful forward who saunters around the pitch, capable of changing the game in an instant.

Also of note are the roles of wingers Andres Guardado, on the right, and Giovani Dos Santos, who are the supply line for Manchester United-bound forward Javier Hernandez.
Mexico have appeared at 13 World Cups and they will open the first to be played on African soil on June 11 against hosts South Africa in Group A, which also includes Uruguay and France.

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