Mexico's Giovani dos Santos misses a chance to score against Switzerland from a freekick during their men's first round Group B football match in the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff August 1, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)
Mexico and New Zealand face off in a number of weeks and it is becoming increasingly clear that El Tri is in crisis management mode. The team hired its fourth coach in three months and the new guy Miguel Herrera has already named his squad of players. Most of these players have played with him at America, meaning that he is looking for safe options. He has left off major stars like Javier Hernandez and Giovanni Dos Santos. Herrera has a lot of work to do to get the Tri into the tournament. Here are a few steps he must take.
Raise Confidence of Major Stars
While he has not named Hernandez or Dos Santos, it is unlikely he leaves them off the team come November. The team needs its top stars to shine brightly if it has any hopes of returning to Brazil and leaving Dos Santos and Hernandez out of the qualifiers is not going to get their confidence back. He needs to remind Hernandez and Dos Santos that they are superstars and must get them playing to their strengths. That means encouraging Hernandez to shoot as much as possible and take on opponents. A confident Hernandez will go a long way toward terrorizing New Zealand.
Plug Defensive Holes
This team's performance against Costa Rica was highlights by some tremendous defensive lapses, especially in the second half with the score at 1-1. Mexico's backline seems to be struggling with communication and Herrera must get them not only on the same wavelength, but encourage a more pragmatic approach in which they hang back and simply serve as outlets for the midfield and forward. A more defensive approach against an energetic New Zealand will help in the long-run of the playoff.
The team currently has no midfield focus or playmaker. Rafa Marquez was brought back into the fold for the last qualifiers to serve as an anchor but he was a mess. He gets another chance under Herrera but the team's midfield is easily its weak spot. It has lacked creativity and looks predictable in its attacks. Dos Santos was once the midfield leader and Herrera should do everything possible to get him back to that status, as he is the best Mexico has.