By César García
The México National team will face their similar side of Ecuador in a
friendly this Wednesday, in what will be their penultimate match of the
The friendly will mainly serve both sides to observe new players ahead of their qualification campaigns.
For el Tri, it offers an opportunity for Nery Castillo and other
unheralded players to win a spot on the roster for the crucial World
Cup qualifier on November 19 against Honduras, in San Pedro Sula.
With only a week before the do-or-die qualifying match at Honduras,
this friendly match will mainly serve the purpose of fulfilling FMF
contractual obligations and give México coach Sven-Göran Eriksson a
chance to observe some players that may appear on Friday’s call-up list
for the crucial qualifier.
This will be the seventh match for the Swede at the helm of el Tri, with a record of three victories, one draw and two defeats.
Under his short term the main base of his formation includes
European-based players, who were unavailable due to the match not being
on the FIFA calendar. The squad is comprised by a majority of Mexican
league players, the only exception is Nery Castillo.
The only domestic players that have played an integral in qualification
are Fernando Arce of Santos Laguna and Cruz Azul’s Gerardo Torrado. The
remainder of the unheralded players will simply try to impress and
instill confidence in Eriksson to be considered for upcoming National
For some of the domestic players this will be their second call-up in
the Eriksson era for a friendly, such is the case of talented
midfielder Antonio Naelson ‘Sinha,’ who due to injuries has yet to
participate in qualification.
The Brazilian-Mexican faces the tightest scrutiny by Eriksson, whose
style of play in the midfield does not appear to favor the one-touch
approach of the European coach. However, ‘Sinha’ is a player that
effectively handles and distributes the ball, controls the tempo of the
match and generates attacking options. If the last three matches for el Tri say anything, is that a player with the characteristics of ‘Sinha’ is greatly needed in the México midfield.
An attraction of the friendly is the confirmed start of Manchester City
forward Nery Castillo, who arrived with anticipation to México to train
with Chivas and recover his match fitness. This friendly will serve as
a test for the talented forward to see how much inactivity has affected
his game and prove his quality to be considered for the next qualifier.
América goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, also received the nod to start and
the opportunity to demonstrate that he is ready to defend the México
goal in the near future.
The Ecuadorean National team will not have any activity until 2009, when CONMEBOL qualification resumes.
With many of the principal figures absent, the friendly allows coach
Sixto Vizuete to observe some new players who have performed and stand
out in the local championship, which he believes “deserve to be taken
into account for these types of matches.”
In the defense, Giovanny Nazareno and Luis Checa from Deportivo Quito,
will most likely get their opportunity and will be observed for
consideration in upcoming qualification matches.
This second-string Ecuador side also boasts a solid and dangerous
attack, made up of midfield players with participation in the current
South American qualifiers, such as Fabricio Guevara and Fernando
Hidalgo of Barcelona SC, and Luis Bolaños of Liga de Quito.
With the absence of Santos Laguna striker, Christian Benítez, who
requested not to be called-up, the doors are open for Barcelona SC
forward Pablo Palacios, to demonstrate that he can be a starter in
Ecuador’s World Cup qualification campaign.
Ecuador is currently out of World Cup contention, in the sixth spot
with only 12 points out of ten matches disputed in CONMEBOL
qualification. In their two most recent matches, they suffered a 3-1
away defeat at Venezuela and before that earned a 1-0 victory against
With nothing at stake, Ecuador will use the match to observe new
players ahead of the continuation of their qualification campaign next
While with the European-base out of the formation, domestic México
players will see this as an opportunity to validate their claim to be
included on the final roster for Honduras.
An intense and hard fought encounter is anticipated, but with few days
of work, individualities will mark the difference and could favor el Tri if inactivity has not affected Nery Castillo.
México 1 - 1 Ecuador
César García covers México for Goal.com.