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Archive for Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mexico in tough position

June 21, 2006

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— Mexico has not made things easy on itself at the World Cup.

A tie against lightly regarded Angola has placed the top seed in Group D in jeopardy of not advancing to the second round. The Mexicans need a win over Portugal to finish first and a tie to guarantee moving on.

But it's not a comfortable position because Portugal has won both of its games and Mexico will be without leading scorer Jared Borgetti (thigh injury) for the match today at Gelsenkirchen.

If the Mexicans lose and Angola beats Iran in Leipzig, the Africans could sneak through. Heading in, Mexico is plus-2 in goal differential and Angola is minus-1.

A draw would give Mexico five points, guaranteeing second place. But forward Francisco Fonseca predicted Saturday night that El Tri would go for the victory.

"We believe we are a better team than Portugal," said Fonseca, better known as Kikin. "What's important is for us to win this game and get to the second phase."

Mexico has enough offense to make up for the loss of Borgetti, but only if the players aren't tight. They appeared to lack some confidence in the 0-0 tie with Angola.

Portugal is a more experienced and deeper team than Angola, and a formidable obstacle for Mexico to reach the second stage for the fourth straight time.

"Portugal is a really good group, so we've got to play really well to get the result," said midfielder Gerardo Torrado.

Here's another incentive for Mexico: avoiding Argentina, the favorite to win Group C. Then again, the booby prize if the Mexicans don't face the Argentines would be the Netherlands, not an enticing prospect, either.

The Dutch play the Argentines at Frankfurt tonight, when Ivory Coast takes on Serbia-Montenegro in Munich. The Ivorians and Serbs have been eliminated.

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