Mexico’s Next Biggest Challenge: How to Integrate the European-Based Players Back Into the Team
Mexico’s decisive victory over New Zealand over two legs proves that despite the woeful year and constant mismanagement of the side, El Tri still has the quality to do damage in Brazil. The decision to field a completely domestic based side with many relatively inexperienced internationals reaped dividends as far as squad chemistry and harmony were concerned. The question now is how does Mexico reintegrate its European contingent into a side that looked very settled over the two legs this past week?
European based players have been blamed for many of Mexico’s problems by both fans and the media. But it is difficult to see how Mexico will be able to navigate successfully through the Group Stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup without the European based players.
Multiple European based Mexican players have complained openly about the level of professionalism in the FMF setup and have also either rejected call-ups or demanded to be selected in the starting XI in order to report to national team camp.
Manager Miguel Herrera, whose early success on the job should score him points with the media and fans, has decisions to make about multiple players. Problems of squad cohesion have impacted not only the European based players but also the contingent of naturalized players that have been so controversial in Mexico through the years. Herrera has put himself in s strong position to create an environment where European based players should be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.
The Manager will now have time to assess and evaluate each European based player and determine whether they will detract from the dressing room harmony if called into the World Cup squad.
Mexico’s qualification is good news for CONCACAF, soccer fans in Mexico and the USA as well as the FIFA broadcast rights-holders in North America. The question left remaining is if the El Tri side that heads to Brazil next summer will be missing one or more big name players.