"There are a lot of reasons to dream", believes coach Javier Aguirre, and he is not alone. Expectations in Mexico are high that 'El Tri' could produce a historic performance in South Africa this summer. The reasons for optimism are sound. The coach of Mexico's 2002 World Cup side turned to some old heads to rescue a faltering campaign, with Cuauhtemoc Blanco in particular proving an inspired selection.
But it is the country's 'golden generation' of youngsters that has really got fans excited. Andres Guardado, Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela are the pick of the bunch. Aguirre's classic blend of youth combined with the experience of Rafael Marquez, Carlos Salcido and Gerardo Torrado is an exciting prospect. Mexico have never managed better than a quarter-final place, but if 'El Tri' can negotiate a tricky-looking Group A, featuring hosts South Africa and past winners France and Uruguay, Aguirre's dream could become a reality.
Aim: To get beyond the second round, a hurdle the North Americans have been unable to clear at the last four tournaments and have never managed on foreign soil.
THREE KEY PLAYERS
Giovanni Dos Santos The immensely talented winger with great speed and technique is currently on loan at Galatasaray after failing to make an impact at Tottenham following his transfer to the club from Barcelona in 2008. The 21-year-old normally plays on the right of Mexico's attack and was named player of the tournament as Mexico won the 2009 Gold Cup.
Andres Guardado Known as the "Little Prince", the 23-year-old is fast, has great vision and loves a long-range shot. Big things are expected of him in South Africa but there are doubts over his fitness. - the Deportivo player tore knee ligaments in January then injured his groin in April and missed the end of the La Liga season.
Javier Hernandez Manchester United's new signing is already being billed as potentially Mexico's best striker since Real Madrid great Hugo Sanchez. A penalty-box predator, Hernandez hit four goals in his first four appearances for Mexico but has struggled in recent warm-up games and looks short on confidence.
JAVIER AGUIRRE rescued Mexico's World Cup qualification campaign following Sven-Goran Eriksson's troubled 10 months in charge. It is the 51-year-old's second spell coaching the national side, having also led El Tri to the 2002 World Cup when they topped a group that included Italy and Croatia before losing to the United States in the second round. The former Atletico Madrid and Osasuna coach was suspended for three matches by Concacaf for starting a brawl during a 2009 Gold Cup match against Panama.
ADOPT THEM BECAUSE...
Tequila, chilli con carne, margaritas, nachos - you can't argue with the Mexican diet. Rustle up some fajitas, stick a slice of lime in your beer and enjoy the finest generation of footballers Mexico has ever produced.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Mexico's World Cup qualifying highlights
W 2-0 Belize (A) W 7-0 Belize (H) W 2-1 Honduras (H) W 3-0 Jamaica (H) W 2-1 Canada (H) L 1-0 Jamaica (A) D 2-2 Canada (A) L 1-0 Honduras (A) L 2-0 USA (A) W 2-0 Costa Rica (H) L 3-1 Honduras (A) L 2-1 El Salvador (A) W 2-1 Trinidad (H) W 2-1 USA (H) W 3-0 Costa Rica (A) W 1-0 Honduras (H) W 4-1 El Salvador (H) D 2-2 Trinidad (A) Qualified in second place in Concacaf standings
WORLD CUP BEST
Quarter-finalists in 1970 and 1986, both on home soil, when El Tri lost to Italy (1970)and then to West Germany on penalties (1986).
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