Mexico and Cameroon will battle it out for second place in the second match of the World Cup.
By: Kevin Buckles Jr, Sports Editor
After watching fellow group foe and World Cup favorite Brazil win their opening match against Croatia, 3-1, underdogs Mexico and Cameroon will face off at Arena das Dunason Friday to try to keep pace and earn three points.
The Mexicans will have their work cut out for them in Brazil where only four starters from last year’s Confederations Cup remain. In a game where continuity, chemistry, and timing are key, especially on such a world stage, the lack of familiarity could cause issues for this group.
Mexico Head Coach Miguel Herrera feels great about his assemblage of players however, stating that they are all banded together and focused on making a run at history.
“We are all very close, very united,” Herrera told the press in a pregame conference. “… Thinking of only one thing: making history and advancing where other Mexican teams couldn’t.”
Herrera has already made headlines before the tourney by announcing that 2010 World Cup standout and Manchester United forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will not start for his team and will come off of the bench to start the tournament.
“The competition is very close and the 11 that started against Portugal left me very confident in their attacking efforts, “ said Herrera in his pre-game press conference. “There is very good chemistry between Oribe and Gio, that’s why we chose to start with them.”
Hernandez admitted in an interview with CNN that it was a tough year for him and that could have contributed to Herrera’s decision to bring him off of the bench. Despite the circumstances though, Chicharito still echoed his coach’s attitude of wanting to make history for Mexican soccer in the World Cup.
“It was a very difficult year for me especially because I couldn’t play and I couldn’t help my team,” Hernandez told CNN. “But my head now is 100% on the national team. I’m very focused and very concentrated on this World Cup.”
Chicharito’s exemption from the starting lineup very well could determine Mexico’s fate in every crucial group match en route to the Round of 16. The forward plays fearless and aggressive, two qualities a team’s go-to guy must possess and feed off to his team early in the game to get the squad moving in the right direction. The opposite start could spell disaster.
The world saw in the Brazil/Croatia match what could happen when a team starts sluggishly, no matter the opponent. Had it not been for a highly questionable penalty kick awarded to Brazil in the 71 minute of the match in which Neymar took advantage to give his team a 2-1 lead, the host nation may have merely tied with Croatia instead of earning three points, thus ending the game in massive disappointment. This all would have been attributed simply to Brazil’s lackadaisical start.
This is where Cameroon may have a slight advantage heading into their duel.
The men from East Africa have had more stability and structure over the past year than Mexico and are coming off of an uplifting 2-2 draw versus Germany just 12 days ago in their final tune-up before arriving in Brazil. Couple that with Mexico historically never defeating an African team in a World Cup match, going 0-1-2. There is some reason to believe that Cameroon could raise some eyebrows and potentially upset the Mexicans in their first match of the tourney.
Despite the disparity in talent, Mexico will fail to capitalize enough against a gritty Cameroon and end the game in a 1-1 tie.