World Cup qualifiers: Mexico in must-win situation against New Zealand

Mexico's national football team coach Miguel Herrera answers questions during a press conference after a training session in Mexico City ahead of its World Cup qualifier match against New Zealand. (AFP PHOTO/OMAR TORRESOMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images) Mexico’s national football team coach Miguel Herrera answers questions during a press conference after a training session in Mexico City ahead of its World Cup qualifier match against New Zealand. (AFP PHOTO/OMAR TORRESOMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty Images)

WHO: Mexico vs. New Zealand, Leg 1
WHEN: Wednesday at 3:15 p.m.
WHERE: Azteca Stadium, Mexico City
TV: ESPN (English), UniMas (Spanish), Sky Sport 1 (New Zealand), Premier Sports (U.K.)

Mexico’s hopes to reach the 2016 World Cup comes down to its performance in a two-game playoff against New Zealand, which begins Wednesday at Azteca Stadium.

The team played poorly during the World Cup qualifiers, finishing behind the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras and needed two late goals from the United States against Panama just to reach this stage.

El Tri is hoping the altitude in Mexico City at 7,350 feet and 100,000-capacity stadium will propel it to victory.

“We’ll do it here,” Mexico Coach Miguel Herrera said (via Associated Press.) “I’m sure that Mexico will get the advantage so we can relax in Wellington and finish the job. This is the idea. To take care of business at home.”

Mexico has not missed the World Cup since 1990 and will need to lead in scores after the playoffs to advance. If the scores are tied after the second leg, the team with the most away goals will qualify.

The second leg is Nov. 20 in Wellington and New Zealand Coach Ricki Herbert knows it’ll be tough to stop Mexico’s goals.

“That presents a strong challenge for us, but also a good one,” he said (via Associated Press.) “If we can be tight and very resolute we can put ourselves in a position to showcase our talents at home in the second leg.”

New Zealand may also be playing without West Ham defender Winston Reid with an ankle injury.

Kelyn Soong is a news aide and blogger and covers high school tennis for The Washington Post sports section.
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Cindy Boren · November 13, 2013