qualifying team news

Off-form strikers called up to Mexico squad

February 2, 2009

Mexico coach Sven-Goran Eriksson's selection problems were underlined on Sunday when he called up several off-form forwards for this month's World Cup qualifier away to the United States.

Giovani dos Santos, who has barely seen any action for Tottenham Hotspur in the last three months, was included alongside Omar Bravo, a regular substitute with Spanish club Deportivo Coruna.

Guillermo Franco, who has struggled for form with Spain's Villarreal, was also named. Given a rare start in Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Deportivo Coruna, he was taken off after halftime.

Shakhtar Donetsk's Nery Castillo, another of Eriksson's choices, will also be rusty because the Ukrainian season is in the middle of a long winter break.

Arsenal striker Carlos Vela is suspended for the match after being sent off in the 1-0 defeat in Honduras in November.

Eriksson is under intense criticism after a poor run of results since he took over.

Mexico, who have won only once in their last six outings, staggered into the final stage of the CONCACAF region's World Cup qualifying competition despite losing away to Honduras and Jamaica and drawing in Canada.

The match against the U.S. on Feb. 11 kicks off their campaign in the six-team group which decides CONCACAF's representatives in South Africa.

Mexico have a dismal recent record against their neighbours with only two wins in their last 10 meetings.

The top three teams qualify directly and the fourth plays off against the fifth team from South America for another place.

Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago complete the group.

Eriksson's squad included four naturalised players - Argentine-born Franco and Matias Vuoso as well as Brazilian-born Antonio Naelson and Leandro Augusto.

The fielding of foreign-born players is a thorny subject in Mexico but Eriksson has argued that he is merely following the rules.

Goalkeepers: Oswaldo Sanchez (Santos Laguna), Guillermo Ochoa (America), Jose de Jesus Corona (Tecos UAG)

Defenders: Juan Carlos Valenzuela (America), Julio Cesar Dominguez (Cruz Azul), Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven), Ricardo Osorio (VfB Stuttgart), Rafael Marquez (Barcelona), Aaron Galindo (Guadalajara), Leobardo Lopez (Pachuca)

Midfielders: Fausto Pinto (Cruz Azul), Pavel Pardo (America), Leandro Augusto (Pumas UNAM), Luis Perez (Monterrey), Israel Martinez (San Luis), Antonio Naelson (Toluca)

Forwards: Alberto Medina (Guadalajara), Cesar Villaluz (Cruz Azul), Giovani Dos Santos (Tottenham), Matias Vuoso (Santos Laguna), Carlos Ochoa (Guadalajara), Nery Castillo (Shakhtar Donetsk), Guillermo Franco (Villarreal), Omar Bravo (Deportivo Coruna)