Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio feels good about the 28-man preliminary squad he named Monday, saying he's hopeful even with a number of injuries and several players who don't arrive at their best.
Some Mexicans have excelled in domestic play in Europe this season. Hirving Lozano was the breakout start of the Eredivisie and helped PSV to the Dutch title while Hector Herrera captained Porto to another championship in Portugal. Others, like West Ham forward Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Herrera's Porto teammate Jesus "Tecatito" Corona saw fewer minutes than they would've liked.
"I have to be honest with you. Uncomfortable? No. I’m optimistic, happy, proud, longing for the World Cup to start," Osorio said at a news conference Monday to announce his squad. "What we’re working on, more than being worried about, is a true and negative reality which is the limited participation our players had in Europe."
"The most important on this list is that I think, as we talked about two press conferences before this one, it’s a national team where you can make a list with the chance to play against three different styles of play that we’re going to face in our group and have great chances," the manager continued. "We have the chance for a competitive team with aerial football, one that can play with transitions from defense to attack with the speed our players have because we have two or three capable of coming forward with speed, there are box-to-box players, maybe we have an elite player able to play in whatever top league like Hector Herrera.
"We think that beyond what we have, we can compete with anyone without using any pejorative adjustive, the Mexican player is resistant, brave, with good control, good technique, we have to get this out of games vs. other countries with a different class of athlete. Us, in Mexico, with what we have, being in good athletic condition we’re going to have great chances against any opponent."
While there are injury concerns about defenders Diego Reyes and Nestor Araujo, midfielders Andres Guardado and Jonathan dos Santos, and attacker Giovani dos Santos, Osorio said the overall work during his tenure has helped make sure the team has enough depth to survive the absences of players who likely would start were they healthy. Guardado will undergo a procedure when he arrives in Mexico as soon as Wednesday with an eye toward recovering in time to suit up in Russia.
"We’re very hopeful. We think the national team, understanding the difficulties we’ve had, the obstacles, the injuries we have, I think it’s a very well put together team with the previous squads in mind," Osorio said.
"When you look at the last four tournaments we’ve played, the quadrangular, the Hexagonal, the Copa America and the Confederations Cup, obviously without leaving aside the Gold Cup where we gave another group a great chance, at the end of the day I think we’re calm within the group even with the difficulties of trying not to be unfair with human beings and in this case obviously with those who are out of the list. We’re good."
The manager was asked about the seven players who fill out the 35-man preliminary roster submitted to FIFA, but he said the key phrase in the FIFA regulations is that managers could name "up to 35" players.
Osorio said that after seeking the advice of managers including Javier Aguirre, Guus Hiddink, Louis van Gaal, Oscar Tabarez and Marcelo Bielsa, he elected to be as clear as possible with players to avoid giving them unrealistic expectations of making the final list and has named only the 28-man squad he announced Monday.