Costa Rica expects tough Mexico despite injuries

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Andres Guardado Mexico Bobby Wood United States CONCACAF World Cup qualifier 11112016
Paul Vernon
While Andres Guardado, Hirving Lozano and Gio dos Santos are among the injured El Tri players, the Ticos say Mexico has the depth to be dangerous.

A leg injury is keeping Andres Guardado out of Mexico's March World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago, but the Ticos aren't changing up their tactics because of the absence.

Mexico not concerned about 'CONCACAF giant' status

While Costa Rica plans to roll out the same tactical plan it would've had Guardado been able to take part in Friday's World Cup qualification match, coach Oscar Ramirez already has taken his players through a run-down of what Mexico might look like when they meet at the Estadio Azteca.

"I think the game is going to be really complicated. Of course Guardado is a very important player for Mexico, but they have players who are definitely good enough to replace him," Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz said Tuesday. "I don’t think it changes anything for us. Oscar already has gone over what potential replacements there could be for Guardado."

The list includes Villarreal midfielder Jonathan dos Santos, who Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio may have been planning to start regardless of Guardado's status, Chivas' rising star Orbelin Pineda and Monterrey bruiser Jesus Molina.

But the injury list extends beyond the crucial and versatile midfielder. Giovani dos Santos, Jesus "Tecatito" Corona, Hirving Lozano and Marco Fabian were left out of Osorio's squad because of injuries. Yet for Vancouver Whitecaps and Costa Rica center back Kendall Waston, the depth El Tri boast can make up for those absences.

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CONCACAF teams bound by similarities

"It impacts things a lot because they’re key players for Mexico," Waston said. "They’re important players for Mexico, but at the same time behind them there are players with great quality as well. So the players who are going to replace them are going to play well."

Costa Rica has fewer injuries to worry about but lost center back Oscar Duarte to a knee injury suffered with club side Espanyol last weekend after the towering defender had been called in for the contest against Mexico and the Honduras match that follows.