Faced with the avalanche of criticism, Gerardo Martino is looking for answers. And so on.
The Argentine’s continuity as Mexico coach has been called into question after a string of defeats knocked El Tri out of first place in the CONCACAF qualifying rounds for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Previously, back-to-back visits to the United States and Canada were considered the most demanding tests of Martino’s three-year process. And everything went wrong.
At nearly eight degrees below zero, Mexico lost 2-1 to Canada on Tuesday night, four days after a 2-0 stumble against arch-rivals USA.
The pale level of play displayed by El Tri sparked various recriminations, highlighting the fact that the initiative was obediently handed over to their two North American opponents.
The Mexicans were mired by 14 points and dropped to third place, keeping them in the direct qualifying zone. Thanks to their better goal difference, they are ahead of Panama, which counts the same number of units to consolidate in fourth place which grants the passage to an intercontinental playoff.
Canada surprisingly leads the round with 16 points in eight games, followed by the United States with 15. The Americans, who missed the previous World Cup, recovered to a 1-1 draw in Jamaica on Tuesday.
The octagonal, which still has six dates, goes into recess until the end of January.
So far, the favoritism that pointed to the three North American teams to command the positions has been fulfilled.
But Mexico’s collapse in November is alarming. The loss to the United States in Cincinnati was the third in a row this year against their classic regional rival, including in the CONCACAF Premier League and Gold Cup finals between June and August.
Despite the fact that Martino had his key pieces for the match against the United States, such as winger Hirving Lozano and striker Raúl Jiménez, he was clearly outclassed in all his lines.
He then traveled to Edmonton, where he faced freezing temperatures and once again struggled to play and generate scoring chances. It took until the end for Héctor Herrera to be able to take a header.
“In the games against USA and Canada, the defenders, with the ball at their feet, with no options in front of them, had to end up giving it back to Memo (goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa) so he could look for clearance, said Jared Borgetti, the retired Mexican striker and now TV analyst.
“It talks about a lack of work, it talks about the fact that the team has really lost its essence and it’s more worrying and only one player is not going to solve it, it is solved by work and knowing what to do in some games,” he added.
Martino doesn’t share those issues, but he did acknowledge that the level of the team went up and down in his process, which he attributed to the inconveniences of working amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The toll of the pandemic here is a football setback, we’re no better (than) in 2019,” said Martino, recalling a year in which they were crowned Gold Cup champions. not reach the level of that year.
He said that now what fits is to improve in football in the face of the resumption of the octagon at the end of January, during which Mexico will have to travel to Jamaica. Before that, they will play a friendly match against Chile in Austin, Texas on December 8.
What he does not anticipate is stepping aside: “No, it comes to my mind to improve, nothing more”, he settled.
The bad news for Mexico is that they won’t be able to count on Lozano for the trip to Kingston due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
The big surprise was Canada’s campaign, which not only leads the draw, but is the only unbeaten team so far. The Canadians haven’t qualified for a World Cup since attending Mexico City in 1986. In January, they will meet bottom team Honduras.
Panama, on the other hand, is fourth and is not giving up on applying for direct ranking positions.
The Panamanians imitated the Canadians with a few victories in this double appointment and they came back from behind, first to subdue Honduras (3-2) during the visit then at home against El Salvador (2-1 ). In January, they will go to Costa Rica, who reached nine units, after beating visiting Honduras (2-1) thanks to a last-minute goal.
The Ticos retain fifth place and are followed by Jamaica (7 points) and El Salvador (6) and Honduras (3).