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New coach seeks Mexican revival as US tries to recover

sports Updated: Jun 05, 2009 10:41 IST

AFP
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New Mexico manager Javier Aguirre makes his return to guiding the Tri-color with a critical 2010 World Cup qualifying match on Saturday at El Salvador while the US squad tries to bounce back from defeat.

CONCACAF regional qualifying matches for the 2010 global football showdown in South Africa resume Saturday with the Mexicans at El Salvador, Honduras at the United States and table leader Costa Rica at doormat Trinidad and Tobago.

North America’s top three nations after hexagonal round-robin play advance to South Africa while the fourth-place squad must face South America’s fifth-place team for another World Cup berth.

The Mexicans stand fourth on 1-2 after losses to Honduras and the Americans but a win over Costa Rica, but with only the top three positions assured of a World Cup spot, Mexico made a major change to try and climb into contention.

A 3-1 loss at Honduras in April cost former England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson his job after barely 10 months in the post.

Aguirre, 50, guided Mexico to the round of 16 in the 2002 World Cup and spent five years in Spain leading Atletico Madrid into the Champions League.

Host Costa Rica defeated the Americans 3-1 on Wednesday in a qualifier moved ahead one week so the US squad could prepare for the Confederations Cup later this month in South Africa.

That triumph lifted Costa Rica past the Americans to top the table at 3-1 for nine points with the US team on 2-1-1 for seven and Honduras third at 1-1-1 for four, one atop Mexico. El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago are winless.

While the Mexicans revamp their lineup, Honduras hopes for an away upset that would keep them atop Mexico and push them into position to pass the Americans when the qualifying tournament reaches the halfway mark next week.

US forward Landon Donovan, whose penalty kick in second half stoppage time averted a shutout, said his squad must shrug off a sixth loss in a row in hostile Costa Rica and be ready for the Hondurans.

“We need to learn but the most important thing is getting over it as quickly as possible and taking what you can from it,” Donovan said. “Honduras is a very good team that has been rested and preparing for this game.”

Honduras will play host to El Salvador and Mexico will entertain Trinidad and Tobago next Wednesday in the regularly scheduled qualifier date for which the US-Costa Rica match had been originally slated.

Longer rest and a quick turnaround for the Americans could help Honduras pull off a shocker on US soil.

“It’s never easy coming off a loss, but as professionals we have to put it behind us,” US defender
Oguchi Onyewu said. “We have to work as a team and move forward.”

“Honduras is a talented team. We have a quick turnaround time so we have to do what is necessary to be prepared and have a better result. We have to learn from our mistakes and put that towards Saturday.”