The $600 million game is here, as Mexico hosts New Zealand in the first leg of the CONCACAF-OFC World Cup qualifying playoff Wednesday. The match will be carried in the United States on ESPN in English and Univision in Spanish from 12:15 pm PT, so be sure to plan your lunch hour (or set your DVR) accordingly.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera is either uninterested in keeping his cards close to his chest, or he is so confident about his team's chances that he doesn't care that he's shared his starting lineup publicly before the match. Here's who he says he'll be playing against the All Whites:
GK: Moises Muñoz
M: Juan Carlos Medina, Carlos Peña, Luis Montes
F: Oribe Peralta, Raul Jimenez
In case you're keeping track, that's seven Club America players, not coincidentally the team that Herrera of course coaches in the domestic league. Although America won the last Liga MX title, if Mexico somehow doesn't win the playoff and make the World Cup, I'm guessing Herrera will become persona non grata in soccer circles. But still, Mexico has to be considered something of a favorite, despite their abysmal form in 2013.
On the Kiwis' front, the team was dealt a blow with the news that captain Winston Reid suffered an ankle injury while in training with his club West Ham United, and will not feature in either leg of the playoff. Considering they have been playing together as a team relatively longer than Mexico, and considering the extensive game tape on Mexico and their struggles at home this year, New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert will be looking to get a result at the Estadio Azteca before the return leg on his home turf. And he's not revealing his lineup the day before like Herrera.
So here it is. Which team will gain the advantage in the first leg of the playoff? We'll find out very soon.
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