Mexico set to host New Zealand in first leg of much-anticipated World Cup playoff series

RafaMarquezMexico4 (Imago7)

By FRANCO PANIZO

Mexico may still be alive in World Cup qualifying thanks to the U.S. Men’s National Team, but reaching next summer’s prestigious tournament now falls squarely on El Tri’s shoulders.

The beginning of the end of Mexico’s troubled and forgettable 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign is set to get underway on Wednesday afternoon, as El Tri host New Zealand in the first match of their two-legged playoff series at Estadio Azteca. The Mexicans are favored to secure qualification to Brazil, but the same was believed of them at the start of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying before relying on a late come-from-behind U.S. win over Panama to avoid a disastrous elimination on the final round of matches in the region.

Questions still abound for the Mexico, who is under the guidance of its fourth head coach in the past two months in Miguel Herrera and whose squad is filled with only domestic-based players. How will an El Tri team whose mental psyche has become the subject of intense criticism fare against a New Zealand side with nowhere near as much pressure is chief among those questions and one that Mexico will be hoping to answer positively.

El Tri will be playing the first match of the series in their famed Estadio Azteca, but the stadium has recently resembled a house made of straw or wood ready to be blown down at any given moment more than the fortress that it has built a reputation on.

During the last round of qualifying. Mexico struggled to score goals, much less win, at home and that should give New Zealand more than enough confidence as they step into a hostile environment. The All Whites are unlikely to go toe to to with an El Tri side that knows it has been given a golden opportunity to rid of all its past troubles, but a defend-and-counter approach could work, especially if Mexico once again struggle to break down its opponent.

It is up to the Mexicans now to find a way, any way, to reach the 2014 World Cup. They have fumbled precious opportunities time and again this year, but a victory at home on Wednesday would likely erase those thoughts for the mean time while also moving them closer to the direction they want to be in.

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What do you think of Mexico’s series vs. New Zealand? Who do you see winning the World Cup berth? How do you see the game at Azteca playing out?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Featured, International Soccer, Mexican Soccer, World Cup Qualifying. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Mexico set to host New Zealand in first leg of much-anticipated World Cup playoff series

  1. slowleftarm says:

    Let’s go Kiwis!

  2. iggy says:

    love the first line Franco! wish this wasnt in the afternoon so I could watch.

  3. QuakerOtis says:

    “It’s better for the region if Mexico wins, and …”

    Sure, but how sweet would it be if we gave Mexico their one shot to make the WC Finals, and then they CHOKE?!

    • Isaac says:

      I think every U.S. fan would have a duty to make sure that they could never live it down…

      • QuakerOtis says:

        We would wear all white to all games against mexico. Only color would be a black # Dos on the front. Black # Cero on the back.

  4. SurfGuy I says:

    Vamos Mexico a ganarmos! Damn, but I love the Land of the Long White Cloud as well…

  5. Judging Amy says:

    Mexico’s new coach is hilarious looking. He looks like a cross between Barney Rubble and Captain Caveman. Can’t help but crack up anytime that dude pops up on the screen.

  6. Andre Mariner says:

    Sorry, but this match is fixed. There is over 600 million dollars riding on Mexico making the World Cup.

    There is no chance they lose. If they’re down, look for dubious penalties, ejections, and other nonsense.

    C.R.E.A.M.

    • Isaac says:

      “C.R.E.A.M.”

      … and for the acronymically (yes, i just made that up) unacquainted…?

      • Jacknut says:

        Cash
        Rules
        Everything
        About
        Me

        I’m old enough to remember when it was new.

      • Andre Mariner says:

        What Jacknut said.

        Song from ’93 by Wu-Tang. Method man on the hook.

      • Mr_A says:

        I’ll believe it… except that it would’ve been so much easier to make it happen in Costa Rica. And the USA-Panama match appeared well officiated (except for the non-foul yellow that went the wrong way for a Mexico conspiracy) and absolutely, totally unpredictable.

        I mean, the referee better be from Norway or Pakistan and have secure transportation back to the airport, of course, but aside from that it oughta be a good match. Play ball!

    • Jacknut says:

      I hear they are flying you in special!

  7. AcidBurn says:

    So wish Winston Reid wasn’t injured. What a blow to the Kiwis, especially since their whole strategy would have been around bunkering here in Azteca.

  8. Nate Dollars says:

    ‘…the stadium has recently resembled a house made of straw or wood…’
    – or jello.
    – or cookie dough.
    – or play-dough.
    – Any kind of dough!

  9. MJ says:

    Is the game televised?

  10. TheFrenchOne says:

    I am so torn about this… On the one hand, i absolutely despise El Tri with all my heart and want to see an entire nation burn those hideous green jerseys in the streets of Mexico when their beloved team flames out. On the other hand, it can’t be good for CONCACAF, and ultimately USMNT, to only send 3 teams to Brazil 2014.

    • TheFrenchOne says:

      although rafa marquez’ name on the roster makes me lean hard toward wanting mexico to flame out…

      • Isaac says:

        Yes, buuuuuut….. I think just one time in world football it’d be funny if Mexico didn’t make it to the World Cup. At least for us. It’d be the greatest joke of all time for a Yanks fan…

    • MJ says:

      I don’t think CONCACAF is in any position to need to worry about it. When you realize that Asia gets 5 spots in the world cup and have some of the worst teams in the world, I wouldn’t be worried about CONCACAF clout.

  11. Bean says:

    Today we are all Mexicanos.

  12. dcpohl says:

    I accept that it’s better for the region if Mexico qualifies. However, if they lose there will be a big smile on my face.

  13. biff says:

    I gotta bad feeling if Mexico ends up qualifying for WC 2014. Does anyone know when the absolutely positively earliest meeting of the USMNT and Mexico could take place? In WC 2002 it was the round of 16. But in looking at World Cups after that, it appears that a first meeting between Concacaf teams now could only take place in the quarter-finals. Is that right?

  14. Chicago Josh says:

    Rainy and cold…not the conditions Mexico were hoping for

  15. Supreme Khan of the Mongols says:

    DECIDED TO WEAR ALL BLACK TO THE OFFICE TODAY……TWO REASONS-1) TO SUPPORT THE ALL BLACKS, 2) AS MOURNING FOR ALL THE MEXICAN FANS WHO WILL BE KILLING BOTTLES OF TEQUILA TONIGHT!!!!

  16. Joamiq says:

    I am at work, and I have a ton of work today, but I will sure as hell be keeping an eye on this game. May it go better than the last WCQ playoff match we Yanks were all paying attention to…

  17. Ted in MN says:

    If New Zealand wanted to start with a haka here, I would not be opposed. Add some flare to the proceedings.

  18. Ted in MN says:

    No match thread? I can’t be the only lazy ### watching this on my couch!

  19. AB says:

    Thanks god we didn’t face Uruguay

  20. Ted in MN says:

    New Zealand is defending much deeper than “bunkering”. Realistically, we’re much deeper, somewhere around Moria.

  21. AB says:

    Mexico don’t deserve to play WC, but New Zealand need to give more to avoid that.

  22. Chad says:

    This game is awful…did NZ bring their rugby players?

  23. AB says:

    Mexico 2 Nz 0 … New Zealand is having a tough game…

  24. Chad says:

    I think Chicharito is playing for NZ as the right winger.