Mexico struggled mightily in the CONCACAF qualifiers and they were labeled as a huge disappointment after ending the final round in fourth place.
For a team used to being a driving force in its region, the lack of quality was inexcusable and the Federation took the matter into their own hands as they appointed Miguel Herrera to lead the team in the playoff round against New Zealand. The manager surprised many people when he decided to call-up only players that were currently participating in the Mexican League.
Judging by the result of the first leg there’s not much to argue with the decision.
Mexico played their best game of the year when it mattered the most and won the game by a convincing 5-1 score that puts them close to clinch their berth to the World Cup next year. Headlined by Oribe Peralta up front and with some good movements all over the pitch, Mexico was the better side from kickoff until the final whistle, and the four-goal differential could’ve been much bigger if the hosts had been more accurate on their finishing.
The decision to sideline the European players proved to be the right one for this clash. With the Estadio Azteca being 2300 meters above the sea level, it was key for Los Aztecas to establish a difference in the physical aspect where the ones currently playing in the country are already used to it.
Granted, there’s still one game left to be played for Mexico on their way to qualify to Brazil’s tournament. But based on what happened in the first leg and the quality of both sides it seems really difficult to imagine Mexico can lose by four goals against a team that lacks the experience to pull off such a miraculous comeback.