Kazan, Russia – Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio backed his team’s resilience to see them through to the Confederations Cup semi-finals, when they face hosts Russia on Saturday.
“To play in Russia, with 90 per cent of the crowd supporting Russia and them also playing to qualify is an extraordinary scenario for Mexican football to show what it is capable of,” Osorio told a news conference Friday.
“This is a game that we have been waiting for a long time, playing in a stadium where we are going to be the away team. If there is one thing this group of players has it’s resilience, the desire to win and to do things well.”
Mexico are top of Group A with the same number of points as Portugal but with a better goal difference. They only need a draw to reach the semi-finals.
Russia need to win to secure a place in the last four of the home tournament. A draw would only see them through in the unlikely event if Portugal losing against New Zealand who are already knocked out.
Despite being favourites Osorio warned: “Russia compete very well for 90 minutes. They are almost always well positioned defensively to deal with the opposition’s counter-attacks. They can always cause teams trouble with their set-pieces.”
Osorio also defended his rotation policy after making eight changes for the game against New Zealand which they won 2-1 having been behind.
“We wanted to rotate the squad to avoid injuries.” Despite resting some players Mexico have central defensive problems going into the game with Russia,” Osorio said.
Carlos Salcedo is definitely out after dislocating his shoulder against New Zealand. Hector Moreno is not fully fit and Rafael Marquez is still recovering from a back operation although he did play 20 minutes against New Zealand.
Despite those set-backs attacking midfielder Andres Guardado is full of confidence going into the match and discounted playing for a draw.
“We are thinking about winning our game. It will be very difficult but we believe in our potential and our quality. We have what it takes to qualify,” he said.