There's no rest for the wicked. There's also no rest for Olympic qualifying hopefuls.
With three games in five days, teams barely have time to register results before training for the next match. Mexico's U-23 side crushed Trinidad and Tobago 7-1 and within minutes of the final whistle coach Luis Fernando Tena was talking about the next game against Honduras.
"We won't sleep. We need to think about Honduras," Tena said. "It's going to be a tough game, with capable people for them especially up front." Mexico's defense fell asleep in the 87th minute to let T&T score a consolation. But that's not the only worry Tena has. "Honduras has always been a complicated rival for Mexico in all categories."
Honduras beat Panama 3-1 in an earlier match.
El Tri are the heavy favorites to progress from Group B and qualify for the Olympics, but hat trick hero Marco Fabian warned against leaning on that tag.
"Stats are put aside in the end," he said. "We show what we can do on the pitch whether we're favorites or not. We must display our style of soccer and that's what will get us [in the Olympics.]"
Displaying their style seemed to work out well in the group opener against T&T. Besides the Chivas forward, Alan Pulido, Diego Reyes, Israel Jimenez and Javier Cortes all scored in an impressive rout.
"In general terms, the team played well," Tena allowed. "We rotated the ball, we pushed forward with intensity and respected the rival. We didn't pass just to pass, but to get to the goal as well."
Once at the goal, Fabian took over. The Chivas forward thrived under the extra pressure of wearing the No.10 jersey.
"This is the first time I have ever scored a hat trick. I'm really happy," he said, before talking about the jersey number. "I've always said that it's a great responsibility and I accept it. I give 100 percent and I believe that helps the team push forward. Of course I like having that responsibility."
Mexico has failed to qualify for two of the last three Olympic Games. In order to avoid missing out on a trip to London this summer, Tena made sure his players knew what was at stake. After three group-stage games, the top two from each group advance to the semifinal round. The winners of each semi qualifies for the Olympics.
"[Scoring seven was] very important," Tena said. "We knew going in that goal differential was important in this type of tournament, so it was important to get the win. These are three great points."
Less great from Tena's perspective were the injuries his players picked up. Javier Aquino, David Cabrera, Nestor Calderon and Javier Cortes will all train separately from the rest of the squad tomorrow as the El Tri doctors monitor them.
"We have less than 48 hours to prepare against Honduras, and our players are banged up," Tena said. "We'll have to wait to see who we can count on." The former Cruz Azul boss doesn't sound like someone whose team just won by six clear goals. "I'm worried and have a bitter taste in my mouth."
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Eric Gomez contributed additional reporting from Carson, Calif.