Mexico on verge of missing 1st World Cup since 1990
Home team needs to beat Panama for spot
Talk about World Cup pressure.
In his first game in charge, Mexico's new coach Victor Manuel Vucetich must deliver a victory on Friday 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 has yet to win at Azteca stadium in this qualifying cycle, a previously unthinkable statistic as the venue located at 2,250 metres (7,400 feet) 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 Tuesday. "But we have a great chance — it's the last chance we have to correct things."
Talking with 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 has four.
The fourth-place team in the group faces a playoff 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 on Tuesday, Mexico plays at Costa Rica and Panama is home against the United States. Panama had never beaten Mexico in an official game until the recent Gold Cup, where it won twice, bfore 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, which has 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.