Omar Govea joins Mexico squad with hopes of making 2018 World Cup

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The 22-year-old is having a breakout year in Belgium and, despite playing just 16 national team minutes in his career, hopes he can head to Russia

Mexico midfielder Omar Govea is ready for March's friendly matches against Iceland and Croatia, saying despite being on the fringe of the El Tri picture he believes he has a good chance to make the squad that goes to Russia for the World Cup.

"I have a lot of hope, a lot of hunger to get started and to start to win this opportunity for myself," he told reporters at Mexico's team hotel Sunday night.

Govea was the first Europe-based Mexico player to arrive in Northern California, where El Tri is gathering to prepare for Friday's friendly match against Iceland at Levi's Stadium. Shortly after Govea entered the hotel, Hirving Lozano arrived with Frankfurt teammates Carlos Salcedo and Marco Fabian and LAFC forward Carlos Vela also getting in Sunday night. The Mexico-based players and the rest of the team are set to arrive Monday morning ahead of an afternoon training session in San Jose.

The 22-year-old has had a breakout season in Belgium with Royal Excel Mouscron, earning his first call-up in November of 2017 and playing 16 minutes against Poland in that friendly.

Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio and his staff liked what they saw from the San Luis Potosi native, attempting to call him in for January's friendly match against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Govea's club declined to release him for the date outside a FIFA window, but Govea said the two matches this month during the FIFA date will give him a chance to showcase his abilities and win a spot in Russia.

"That's what I've come for, to win a place for myself. This is the last call-up (before the World Cup roster is named), it's going to be very competitive, but I'm ready," he said.

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With only 16 minutes in a national team shirt, though, Govea will have to impress in both training sessions and in any matches he enters. An injury to Jonathan dos Santos that keeps the LA Galaxy central midfielder out could help Govea see more time with the coaching staff calling center back Oswaldo Alanis in his place. For his part, Govea is confident Osorio has an eye on him.

"I’ve shown well in my club and the fact that Osorio has come to see me in Belgium, I think that shows the confidence he has in me, that he’s considering me, and I have to thank him for this confidence on the field," he said.

Mexico faces Iceland on Friday before traveling to Texas to meet Croatia on March 27.

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