Mexico looks to Confeds Cup for fresh start

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Mexico hasn’t scored in back-to-back World Cup qualifiers, including a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica at the Estadio Azteca on Tuesday.  The pressure on El Tri is mounting, but the team is leaving those woes back home.

The focus is squarely on the FIFA Confederations Cup.

“We must put the qualifiers aside,” defender Carlos Salcido told reporters following training Thursday at Estadio Sao Januario, home of CR Vasco de Gama.  “We have to focus on this tournament.”

“Pressure will always be on a team that aspires to important things,” midfielder Gerardo Torrado added. “I think we know, set it aside and look to make a good Confederations Cup.”

Mexico, which is making its sixth appearance in the tournament, is the only CONCACAF team ever to lift the trophy.  El Tri achieved the feat as the host in 1999, beating Brazil 4-3 in the final played in front of a tournament-record crowd of 110,000 at Estadio Azteca.  It last competed in 2005, losing to Argentina on penalties in the semifinals.

“We’re fine, we’re very well prepared,” forward Javier Hernandez said.  “Many players two weeks ago ended their season, played in one final.  I think we’re all ready.”

The six-time CONCACAF Gold Cup champion opens group play Sunday against Italy in the newly renovated Maracana Stadium, before taking on host Brazil (June 19) and Japan (June 22).  It has never faced the Azzurri in the Confederations Cup, winning just once in 11 all-time meetings.  That lone victory, 2-1, in Brussels, came as a result of goals by Carlos Vela and Alberto Medina; neither of whom is on Mexico's roster for the FIFA event.

“We will face a great team such as Italy,” midfielder Andres Guardado said.  “We have to return to that foundation with which we won the Gold Cup for a good tournament.”

Goalkeeper Jesus Corona believes that the Confederations Cup presents an appropriate platform from which Mexico can showcase its skills against some of the best teams in the world. 

“You do not always have the chance to face these kind of players,” Corona said.  “Now we have the opportunity and I think we have to use it, show that we also have quality and I think we’re going to take advantage.”

A positive performance can do wonders for morale heading into the Gold Cup, which starts for the two-time defending champions July 7 against Panama in the Rose Bowl.

“We are angry with ourselves, a little sad with the helplessness that things did not work out [against Costa Rica], but this morning we talked among ourselves that we have let that go,” Guardado added.  “This is another tournament and you have to enjoy it and this can help a lot in the psyche if we do well with what comes next.”