3 September 2014 17:48
Mexico and Chile made their presence felt in the World Cup and will be eager to put on a show in Friday’s friendly in Santa Clara.
Both nations were unfortunate to be knocked at the last-16 stage in Brazil following some impressive performances in the group stage.
Mexico were just two minutes from reaching the quarter-finals after Giovani Dos Santos put them in front against the Netherlands in Fortaleza, but two late goals consigned them to a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat.
Chile were also left to reflect on what might have been following a defeat on penalties against the hosts in Belo Horizonte, but both teams came out of the tournament with their reputation enhanced and will be determined to kick on.
Mexico were boosted by coach Miguel Herrera’s decision to sign a new contract until 2018 in July.
Herrera’s exuberant celebrations were one of the highlights of the World Cup and Mexicans will be hoping to see more of the same in Russia in four years time, as well as the Copa America next year.
His immediate attention is on securing a victory over Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile side in the first international fixture to be played at Levi’s Stadium.
Defender Andres Guardado will captain Mexico in the absence of Rafael Marquez, who was not included in the squad as he settles in Italy following his move to Verona.
On-loan PSV defender Guardado is relishing the opportunity to lead out his country and is grateful to Herrera for handing him the armband.
“Being captain is a big responsibility and if Miguel Herrera gives [it to] me is something that excites me so much, that motivates anyone,” he said.
“For all is a dream to be captain of his team and hopefully [I] can be a worthy representative of this.”
Guardado already has one eye on ensuring that Mexico can make an impact in the next World Cup in Russia.
“In four years many things happen but we will try to maintain the level and try to be there,” he said.
Javier Hernandez has not been included in the Mexico squad after Herrera gave the striker time to sort out his future, which resulted in him joining Real Madrid on loan from Manchester United before the transfer deadline.
Atletico Madrid’s Raul Jimenez is another notable absentee, but Erick Torres, Antonio Rios, Oswaldo Alanis and Luis Venegas were given a first international call-up by Herrera.
Mexico City defender Jorge Torres Nilo has been ruled out due to a calf injury, so Miguel Layun has been drafted in to replace him.
Chile, ranked 12th in the world, host the Copa America next year and midfielder Marcelo Diaz has stressed the importance of building momentum ahead of the prestigious tournament.
“We want to enjoy the Copa America with the intention of winning,” he said.
“We’ll be home and we are going to enforce. We are going to prepare these months to get in the best shape for the Copa America.”