[HEXAGONAL COUNTDOWN] Recently appointed head coach Victor Manuel Vucetichis doing whatever he can to change the fortunes of the Mexican national team.
His possible moves include changing the kickoff time of Mexico’s final home Hexagonal qualifier from the evening to the afternoon, and taking domestic players away from their club teams for a few days of extra training.
The Web site mediotiempo.com reportedMonday that Vucetich wants the kickoff time for the crucial Oct. 11 Hexagonal qualifier against Panama switched from its current 9 p.m. local time. He says the kickoff should between noon and 4 p.m. to maximize the effects of heat, altitude and pollution that make Azteca Stadium such a difficult place to play.
So far in the Hexagonal, Mexico’s home games have been played at night at the behest of television broadcasters. The 2-1 defeat to Honduras Sept. 5 began at 7:30 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. Eastern). Playing at night, Mexico has tied three and lost one of its four home Hexagonal matches. It is tied for fourth place in the Hexagonal with eight points, but though Panama has the same number of points, Mexico trails on the second tiebreaker, goals scored. Both teams have a minus-2 goal differential, which is the first tiebreaker.
The USA managed a rather comfortable 0-0 tie at Azteca on March 26 in the third round of the Hexagonal. Conditions for that match, which kicked off at 9:30 p.m. local time, were partly cloudy skies and 64-degree temperatures.
There are other possible changes pending as well. Vucetich, who has won many league and Concacaf titles while coaching 11 Mexican club teams but has never before coached the national team, wants more time with his players.
Several news reports published over the weekend stated that Vucetich has proposed staging several days of national-team training each week in the weeks leading up to the Panama game though not clear is when it would start. Four Mexican teams are playing Concacaf Champions League matches this week and next week.
“He will bring the players in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then they’d go back to their club teams Thursday and Friday and play for their clubs on the weekends,” says former U.S. international defender Marcelo Balboa, who worked the USA-Mexico game last Tuesday for Univision. “Supposedly, all the club owners agreed to it because of the situation that Mexico’s in.”
While Balboa agrees that such a move confirms Mexico’s desperate plight, he also believes it’s not so far-fetched to imagine the USA doing something similar.
“If this was the United States, we would probably be doing the same thing, if we needed to win two [games] just to get into fourth place, depending on what happens with Honduras," said Balboa, who earned 128 caps during his career from 1988 to 2000. "I would say we would probably be in a little bit of a panic mood, too. I don’t blame ‘em.”
Midweek "concentraciones" for El Tri in Mexico City have been used in the past, though they have been harder to pull off in recent years as more Mexican players play abroad and the Mexican clubs play more games.