Things change quickly when the heat increases, and yet the temperature plummets at the same time.
Mexico was 4-0-2 and atop the Concacaf World Cup qualifying table after two windows in the Octagonal, seemingly reaching a spot in Qatar next fall. You will probably get there relatively easily. Modern history suggests that Mexico will not only qualify for the World Cup, but will drop out of the group and be quickly eliminated in the round of 16. After all, that has happened for the last seven cycles without fail. But their 2026 World Cup co-hosts and a team from Panama that just won’t give up have certainly made things more interesting as the year in World Cup qualification draws to a close and the last two windows are closed. looming in the coming months.
Through eight of 14 matches, Mexico ranks third in the region where a top three result reserves an automatic place for the World Cup and a fourth place results in an intercontinental tiebreaker for one more spot. It is ahead of Panama in goal differential for third place and, more vitally, five points from the ruin that comes with finishing in the top four, which the United States felt in qualifying for Russia 2018. There is still a margin of error and a favorable set of accessories ahead.
For El Tri, the November window featured the middle two games of four straight away games, including what were probably Mexico’s toughest games in the entire process: in the US, where it has historically had Qualifying problems since the turn of the century, and in Canada, which gave new meaning to home advantage by displaying a night of freezing temperatures, snow and artificial turf. If Mexico thought Ohio in the fall and winter months was bad, that must have seemed like paradise compared to a freezing night in Edmonton.
Despite whatever reasoning that may seem legitimate when considering the bigger picture, back-to-back losses mean that calls for the Tata Martino job are on the rise (three competitive losses to the US in a span of five months and the resurgence of the mystical “Two to Zero” also surely factors). He flatly stated that he would not resign when asked after the 2-1 loss to the Canadians, but the headlines in Mexican newspapers have been brutal, if not humorous.
The Mexican federation has a decision to make. Trust that the worst is over, that the gap between the upper and lower halves of the octagonal table creates enough space and that the results will change, or pull the trigger on a training move now that it will, in theory, speed up a turn. in shape and fortune. The two-month break between windows is the time to do it, if it’s going to happen. But as El Tri discovered over the course of the last week, things change by a penny in this qualifying format. With Canada and the US ready to meet in the next window, and with Mexico having two games at Azteca, including one against Panama, following a road test in Jamaica, Mexico’s first-choice center-backs should be available. , unlike this window. Although Hirving Lozano is suspended for the trip to Kingston, it doesn’t take much to imagine a scenario in which Mexico’s position becomes a little stronger in a matter of three games.
However, for the moment, El Tri must marinate in an awkward position. Canada’s ability to go head-to-head with the region’s giants is clearly no fluke, and a young American team is maturing and gaining experience as it goes, even though key players are not available in every window. When the next FIFA ranking comes out, it will be the United States, not Mexico, that is the highest ranked side of the region, something that hasn’t happened in over six years.
Mexico will need to follow one version of Guillermo Ochoa’s advice and have a long, hard look in the mirror. What you will see is a team that needs to suppress whatever sense of urgency it has conjured in the final minutes in Edmonton, when a goal line stop came away from stealing a tie, and apply it more regularly. What could have been a window in which Mexico effectively closed its place in the World Cup took on an entirely more humiliating tone. The ice isn’t cracking completely underneath El Tri, and the worst may well have happened, but as the Octagonal turns into a four-team race for three automatic seats, it has become apparent that what once seemed a Mexico game for a first place will be much more complicated than initially anticipated down the stretch.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.