With little more than pride at stake after both teams were eliminated from the Confederations Cup on Wednesday, the Mineirao clash is a race to avoid finishing bottom of Group A.With their hopes of reaching the Confederations Cup sem-finals dashed, Japan and Mexicowill face each other at the Mineirao on Saturday playing for little more than to avoid the ignominy of finishing bottom of Group A.
Neither team has registered a single point in the tournament so far, but major lineup changes are not expected on either side as they both aim to conclude their fruitless campaigns on a positive note.
Japan, which was eliminated on Wednesday after a devastating 4-3 defeat against Italy, has only one significant change to make, with captain Makoto Hasebe suspended after picking up two yellow cards.
Hertha Berlin’s Hajime Hogosai is the most likely candidate to replace the skipper, who conceded a penalty against the Azzurri, though Kengo Nakamura or Hideto Takahashi could also see action in midfield.
Meanwhile, Jorge Torres Nilo is in line to be dropped by Jose Manuel de la Torre from the Mexico defense after a terrible performance during the 2-0 loss against Brazil, which ended their chances in the tournament.
In that event, Carlos Salcido is likely to win his 116th cap for El Tri by reverting to a left back role, with Angel Reyna expected to assume Salcido’s place in midfield.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- After their first meeting between the sides in 1996, which ended in a 3-2 Japan victory, Mexico has won the last three meetings, including a 2-1 triumph in the 2005 Confederations Cup.
- Javier Hernandez (pictured, right) has struck Mexico’s only goal of the tournament; a penalty against Brazil. El Tri are scoreless from open play.
- Japan hit the woodwork three times against Italy on Wednesday, and ended up losing the match despite holding a 2-0 lead by the 34th minute.
- Both teams have qualified for the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup tournaments. Japan will also play in the 2014 edition, while Mexico is in CONCACAF’s final phase of qualifying for the competition.