Herrera: Mexico no longer the CONCACAF giant

The temporary Mexico manager says Central American countries have caught up to his side, which takes a comfortable advantage into the second leg of a playoff against New Zealand.
Temporary Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has admitted El Tri’s CONCACAF rivals have improved and Mexico “is no longer invincible” in the region.

Central American nations have caught up to Mexico, and El Tri has to be wary of more physical sides, the 45-year-old said in his news conference on the eve of the World Cup playoff second leg against New Zealand.

“They have been quite shameless because the football has become more physical than technical,” Herrera said. “We have to be very attentive to that (and) realize that we are not the ‘giant’ because they’ve caught us.”

Herrera – whose short-term contract with Mexico’s soccer federation ends after Wednesday morning’s game against New Zealand – also demanded that his team attack against the All Whites, despite going into the game with a 5-1 advantage from the first leg.

“We’re going to attack. We’ve come to win here too,” he stated. “We know they have to score goals, but we are also going to look to score a lot of goals, we’ll have spaces.”

The Mexico coach praised the atmosphere in New Zealand, indicating it is somewhat different than when El Tri play against certain countries in CONCACAF.

“We can go for a run by the sea wall here,” Herrera joked. “I’ve not been because they didn’t bring my clothes, but it is different than in Central American where you put a toe outside the hotel and they want to step on it.”

Herrera also named the Mexico team to face New Zealand, sticking with the same starting XI that did the job last week in the Estadio Azteca.

Mexico’s lineup will be Moises Munoz, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Rafa Marquez, Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, Paul Aguilar, Miguel Layun, Juan Carlos Medina, Carlos Pena, Luis Montes, Oribe Peralta and Raul Jimenez.