Against the USA it is not revenge, it is the pass to the World Cup in Qatar: Gerardo Martino

Although Mexico has lost its last three matches against the United States, and two of them in a final (0-1 in the Gold Cup and 2-3 in the Nations League, both in the summer of 2021), for the coach of the tricolor team, Gerardo Martino, the next confrontation between both teams does not have the taste of revenge, but it is one of the most important in his career because “the passage to a World Cup is at stake”.

In a conference prior to the Mexico vs. United States duel, which will be played on March 24 at the Azteca stadium and which corresponds to matchday 12 of the Octagonal Final of Concacaf heading to the Qatar World Cup, Gerardo Martino denied that it is an opportunity to remove “the thorn” for the defeats in the two finals of 2021, although he said he was aware that it is a game of great relevance for him and the footballers.

“When the finals are lost, they stayed there, there is nothing that can replace or remedy that situation. What we do understand is that the importance of tomorrow’s game (Thursday) is that it can practically be worth a World Cup”, asserted the Argentine strategist, who will reach 50 games at the head of El Tri precisely against the United States.

In the Octagonal Final, 11 of 14 games have been played and Mexico is in third place in the table with 21 points, the same amount as the United States, and four behind the leader, Canada. El Tri have played five of their seven home games and have a balance of three wins and two draws, although the performance has not convinced the fans. Of those wins, only the 3-0 against Honduras showed a forceful offense, but against Panama, for example, they won with a penalty until the 80th minute.

Is the game against the United States the most important of your career as head of the Mexican team?

“Probably yes, the one in Panama last (February 2, on date 11 of the Octagonal) was very important, especially because it was the last of the three-game combo (of that FIFA Date) and we had an urgent need to win it. That has been the most important game of our management and this one against the United States, although it has a similar component, has the exception that there are still two games left (against Honduras and El Salvador); the three are games that we treat with the players as if they could be worth a World Cup”.

It should be remembered that FIFA grants Concacaf three direct tickets to the Qatar World Cup and one for an intercontinental playoff against the Oceania champion. After the 11 dates played in the Octagonal, only Jamaica and Honduras are already mathematically eliminated, which means that six teams are in search of those four places. Mexico has not even secured the play-off yet, but a win against the United States would give it second place in the table heading into the penultimate round.

“I come to this match in the same way as each one of the members of this squad, speaking of players, coaching staff and managers, with the full awareness that there are nine points ahead to reach Qatar. There is nothing else that distracts my attention more than tomorrow’s game (against the United States), knowing how important it is because if we achieve a victory it would almost bring us closer to a World Cup”.

This will be the sixth time that Martino faces the United States during his tenure with the Mexican team. His record is three losses and two wins, although it is worth mentioning that the triad of setbacks were in official matches.

As for qualifying matches on Mexican soil, El Tri has two games without being able to defeat the United States at the Azteca stadium, with a couple of draws (0-0 towards Brazil 2014 and 1-1 towards Russia 2018). Before that, the Aztec team had accumulated three consecutive victories in the processes for Korea-Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. Therefore, their last victory against the North Americans was on August 12, 2009.

Thursday’s match also marks the return of the Mexican fans to the Azteca stadium within the qualifiers, since against Costa Rica and Panama, in the most recent FIFA Date, it was played behind closed doors due to a sanction by FIFA for the discriminatory cry. Against the United States, a capacity of 50,000 fans is estimated, which was the maximum ticket that the Mexican Soccer Federation (FMF) decided to sell.

“The home team is weighed down by playing good soccer, we try to practice it in the same way as home and away, I do not handle other situations other than trying to do our job, impose our idea and be superior to the rival (…) Always I say that I would like to see the Azteca full of people from Mexico encouraging their team and us doing our job on our side, ”said Martino regarding what he expects with the return of the public.

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