World Cup - Country profile: Mexico

We profile 2014 World Cup finalists Netherlands, who head to Brazil on the back of a woeful qualifying campaign.

World Cup - Country profile: Mexico

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Mexico players celebrate against New Zealand (Reuters)

Form and Prospects

Mexico will travel to Brazil amid huge scepticism after an awful qualifying campaign in which they employed four coaches and only avoided elimination thanks to some help from bitter rivals the United States.

They only staggered into fourth place in the CONCACAF final round group, and a two-leg play-off against New Zealand, because Panama conceded two goals in the dying seconds of their final game at home to the United States and lost 3-2.

Mexico only managed two wins in 10 games in the final stage and scored a paltry seven goals and their 9-3 aggregate win over a poor New Zealand in the play-offs does not mask their failings.

Their frustration came to a hilt at the end of the campaign as they fired Jose Manuel de la Torre in September, then Luis Fernando Tena after one game, Victor Vucetich after two more and brought in Miguel Herrera for the play-off.

In the midst of all that, they were beaten by Panama in the semi-finals at the Gold Cup and went out in the group stage at the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

It remains to be seen whether Mexico will stick by Herrera, who is still coach of America, and whether the coach himself will recall European-based players such as Javier Hernandez, who were dropped for the New Zealand match.

With a football-mad population of over 100 million people and one of the world's richest leagues, Mexico are often seen as underachievers at the World Cup and have been knocked out in the round of 16 at the last five tournaments.

But the 2014 qualifying campaign has exposed the chaotic administration at the Mexican Football Federation, where important decisions are generally taken by the owners of the 18 first division clubs often on a whim. At the moment, a first round exit looks more likely the quarter-finals.

Coach: Miguel Herrera

Herrera, 45, was the fourth coach Mexico used during their troubled qualifying campaign but ultimately the man who got them across the finishing line.

A former defender, Herrera made 14 appearances for his country and was part of the team that finished runner-up to Argentina in the 1993 Copa America.

He turned to coaching in 2002 and has spent the past decade with five different clubs in the Mexican league. He was something of a journeyman until he led his club America to the Clausura title this year.

Herrera replaced Victor Vucetich as national coach last month for the two play-off games against New Zealand, which Mexico won 5-1 and 4-2.

Key player: Javier Hernandez

The 25-year-old Manchester United striker was a child prodigy whose father and grandfather also played for the Mexican national team.

Hernandez is Mexico's key attacking weapon.

He made his international debut in 2009 and scored twice at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. A year later, he was named most valuable player at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, scoring seven goals in the tournament.

In 57 appearances for his country, "Chicharito" has scored 35 goals, tied for third on Mexico's all-time list.

The first Mexican to play for Manchester United, Hernandez's has made him a potent goal poacher and he added five more goals during the qualifiers despite not being at his best and becoming frustrated at Old Trafford by lack of regular appearances.

How they qualified

CONCACAF Final round 4th place. Winners of inter-continental play-off v New Zealand.

World Cup record

Previous appearances in finals: 14 (1930, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1978, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010)

Best performance: Quarter-finals (as hosts) (1970, 1986)



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