El Tri of Mexico coach, Gerardo Martino, has rated the Super Eagles as ‘great rival’ and admits that his team must improve in many ways to be able to turn out well against the Nigerians in their tonight’s international friendly match at the AT & T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Completesports.com reports.
Mexico who are preparing for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign and their upcoming CONCACAF Nations League (CNL) group games against Suriname and Jamaica, will take on the Super Eagles at the AT & T Stadium, Dallas, Texas tonight [Saturday] from 07:08pm local time, which is 1:08am Sunday, Nigerian time.
Nigeria have lost twice to Mexico in five senior international games since 1995 and drew three others. The Super Eagles lost their 1995 FIFA Confederations Cup Third-Place match to El Tri 5-4 on penalties after it ended 1-1 in regulation time.
The Super Eagles subsequently recorded three draws in three international friends against the Mexicans; 2-2 in October 2007, 2-2 in May, 2013 and 0-0 in March 2014.
Mexico then pipped Nigeria comprising mainly home-based players 4-0 in their last international friendly match in July 2021.
El Tri coach, Martino, told journalists during his pre-match press conference held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Friday, that his team must improve in different aspects to be able to hold their own against a strong African team like Nigeria which he considers as ‘great rival’.
“Regarding the match, first there is a question that has to do with us – recover the level of play that we have lost since the middle of last year, one cannot always manage to play with rivals that you want to simulate, as would be the ones we would like to face in each of the matches we have between now and the World Cup,” Martino,” Mexico Football Federation, FMF, Communication Department quotes Martino as saying.
“Indeed, we are not playing against any African team, but Nigeria is still a great rival and we have a lot of things to improve, regardless of the opponent,” the Argentine, a former Barcelona and Argentina coach who was hired by Mexico in January 2019 state.
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When asked about the players that will feature in his starting lineup against the Super Eagles, Martino insists it will be the ones that have participated longer in his training sessions ahead of the match.
“There may be some who will not, but in general terms, the team will be much closer to the players who started in the High-Performance Center with us,” Martino stated.
Martino sees Dallas as a home away from home for El Tri, for obvious reasons.
“We have always found many facilities, as well as people with a very good predisposition, the hotel facilities are very good, we feel at home. We feel very comfortable and with all the conditions covered to be able to develop a good preparation,” he concluded.
By Nnamdi Ezekute
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