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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Mexico have to maintain 'a cool head' if they
wish to prevail in Russia, says former player

MEXICO CITY (Xinhua) -- The Mexican football team will have to adopt a combative and united attitude to shine at the 2018 World Cup, said former Mexican national football player Miguel Espana.

Despite the importance of the World Cup, Espana reiterated Mexico must maintain "a cool head" to prevail.

Espana, who played with his team during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, told Xinhua that the current squad must trust in the speed, intelligence and ability of its players.

Mexico will line up on Sunday for its first game against Germany, the reigning World Cup champions.

The "Tri", as the Mexican team is affectionately known, is in Group F against Germany, Sweden and South Korea.

"The key to success for the Tri will be concentration in conceding no goals ...," explained Espana.

When facing South Korea and Sweden, he advised that the team must dominate the midfield to try and score.

Should all these elements come together, Espana said "Mexico has high chances of going beyond the round of 16 matches."

"The main challenge facing the squad is for the team to be ‘complete,’ with the same idea, the same confidence and, that way, face all the difficulties in their path," he added.

Espana, whose coaching career saw him take the Pumas UNAM, a Mexican league football club, to the final of the Copa Sudamericana in 2005, said that the Tri could do well, since 15 of the 23 players played at the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

"The strategy being developed and applied by the team at the World Cup in Russia will be crucial.

"However, I think Mexico needs to know how to use its key elements, such as Hirving Lozano and his characteristic speed," said Espana.

He named goalkeeper Memo Ochoa, midfielder Hector Herrera, and striker Carlos Vela, as well as Lozano, as being key to Mexican hopes.

For Mexico, football represents happiness, emotion and passion, as evidenced by the thousands of compatriots who travel around the world to follow their team.

"I would tell the Tri to get passionate, to leave it all on the pitch, to do it with happiness and pleasure to be able to fully enjoy such an enriching career as football," he explained.

A few days ago, Mexican coach Juan Carlos Osorio told the press he was optimistic and emotional.

"We are going to give our all ... we know the group well.

"Today, we have players in other positions and they are doing well.

"This gives us a great possibility of having a plan B and even C.

"We will start the World Cup and the competition will be fierce," he said.

Mexico will be hoping to get past the first round of the knockout phase and make to the quarterfinals, something it has not done since 1986.

             

 

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