SAN SALVADOR (AP) – Sebastián Córdova did not hesitate when asked what awaits the Mexico national team when they visit El Salvador on Wednesday for the World Cup qualifiers.
“It’s a screwed up game,” said the Mexican midfielder.
Córdova explained that he and other younger players on the squad spoke with their more experienced teammates – such as goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and Andrés Guardado – to get an idea of the hostile environment at the Cuscatlán stadium in the Salvadoran capital.
“Those with more experience have told us that it is a screwed up game, the people, the stadium, that it’s a beautiful and screwed up experience,” said Córdova after the 3-0 home victory against Honduras that left Tri as the absolute leader of the final phase of the CONCACAF qualifying rounds. “It’s going to enjoy it, as I want, I have no choice.”
Adding that Salvadorans “risk their lives against us,” the America player stressed that Mexico does not look down on “anyone.”
And El Salvador is a rival that arrives with the urge to recover in the octagonal of the region that will distribute three direct places and a ticket for an intercontinental playoff to go to Qatar 2022.
After suffering a severe 2-1 setback while visiting Costa Rica, El Salvador coach Hugo Pérez was looking to reorganize a team depleted by sensitive losses in its defensive scheme.
The Salvadorans got off to a good start against Costa Rica on Sunday and took the lead, but failed to sustain the difference in the second half and ended up succumbing, with a controversial penalty that left them baffled.
Against Mexico, Pérez will not be able to count on the central defender Roberto Domínguez due to the accumulation of yellow cards, in addition to the Narciso Orella brand midfielder who saw a direct red against Costa Rica.
Those absences are added to those of the central defenders Eriq Zavaleta and Ronald Rodríguez, ruled out due to injuries. And the attacker Jairo Henríquez, one of the key players in the coach’s scheme, is doubtful due to physical problems.
In addition to the forced casualties, Pérez revealed problems within La Selecta.
If going into details, Pérez told a radio program “there are people who have wanted to destabilize work. I thought that the enemy were the rivals, but the enemy is inside.”
El Salvador has red numbers against Mexico. Out of 12 CONCACAF playoff games, El Tri has nine victories – five in a row. The Saviors have won three times.
In visits from Mexico to Salvadoran soil, dating back to 1993, La Selecta has claimed victory three times and lost two. The last Salvadoran victory was in 2009 towards the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
El Salvador took air at the beginning of this triple date, winning 1-0 at home against Panama. But the setback against the Ticos left them in the places of the table.
Mexico sets the pace with 11 points, followed by the United States and Panama with eight and Canada with seven. Outside the rankings, there are Costa Rica (6), El Salvador (5), Honduras (2) and Jamaica (2).
Mexico coach Gerardo Martino said that against El Salvador they will try to be as forceful as they did against Honduras.
“Trying to go out to find the games, as we have always done,” said the Argentine coach.
Mexico has three casualties. The central César Montes will purge a suspension due to accumulation of cards, while the full back Jorge Sánchez and the forward Henry Martín will not play due to injuries.
But Martino does not have so many problems to make up for these absences and arrives at Cuscatlán with his entire cast of European stars, and is expected to repeat his stellar attack trident with Raúl Jiménez, Hirving Lozano and Jesús Corona.
The game will be played in Cuscatlán with a capacity that would exceed 31,000 fans, allowed by the health authorities, if it states that it has received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
The correspondent Carlos Rodríguez contributed to this report from Mexico City.