Vucetich’s mantra: ‘We must win’

2013-10-10 00:00

MEXICO CITY — Talk about Soccer World Cup pressure, in his first game in charge, Mexico’s new coach Victor Manuel Vucetich must deliver a victory tomorrow at home against Panama, or Mexico could fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Vucetich has taken over from Jose Manuel de la Torre, who was fired after a loss in September against Honduras.

Mexico have yet to win at Azteca Stadium in this qualifying cycle, a previously unthinkable statistic, as the venue, located at 2 250 metres in Mexico City, has always been an imposing venue for visiting teams.

“We know we have not done things very well so far,” Vucetich said on Tuesday. “But we have a great chance — it’s the last chance we have to correct things.”

Talking to reporters, Vucetich repeated several times: “We have to win. We have to win.”

The United States and Costa Rica have claimed two of the three automatic qualifying berths from the North American, Caribbean and Central American region. Honduras holds the third automatic spot with 11 points. Panama and Mexico have eight points and Jamaica have four.

The fourth-place team in the group face a play-off against New Zealand for a spot in Brazil, and right now, with a better goal difference, that’s Panama.

In the final round of games, Mexico play in Costa Rica and Panama is home against the United States.

Panama had not beaten Mexico in an official game until the recent Gold Cup, where they won twice, before earning a draw in a recent World Cup qualifier.

“It’s all up to us,” Vucetich said.

Missing the World Cup would be a psychological blow to Mexico, who have yielded the top spot in the region to the United States. The Americans defeated Mexico 2-0 in the United States and then managed a 0-0 draw in Mexico City.

North, Central America and Caribbean Zone standings:

P W D L GF GA Pts

U.S. 8 5 1 2 10 6 16

Costa Rica 8 4 3 1 11 5 15

Honduras 8 3 2 3 10 10 11

Panama 8 1 5 2 7 9 8

Mexico 8 1 5 2 4 6 8

Jamaica 8 0 4 4 3 9 4.

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