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Mexico has long been the super-power of the CONCACAF federation. Their visit to Korea and Japan will mark their 13th qualification for a FIFA World Cup final, with nearest rivals the United States lagging behind on seven.
Like Brazil and Italy, Mexico have to do more than win to please their fans - they have to win with style. Qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan was anything but stylish, however, with the Tri-Colores going through three managers in order to book their ticket for the Far East. Manuel Lapuente started the Mexican campaign but resigned before the end of the semi-final round. Former international Enrique Meza taking over and will henceforth be known as the first Mexican manager to lose a qualifier in his homeland. After Javier Aguirre, a 1986 FIFA World Cup player, assumed the managerial reins, the Mexicans climbed back up the table, exhibiting strong ball control and a tough-tackling style.
Aguirre's preferred formation is 4-4-2 with a dominant midfield. The defence is marshalled by the all-time leading in caps Claudio "El Emperador (The Emperor)" Suarez, a lynchpin since late 1990 whose position play is unparalleled as either a sweeper or a stopper. The midfield general, Alberto Garcia Aspe, returned to the Mexican squad when Aguirre took over, bringing with him a wealth of experience gleaned from almost 100 caps, 22 goals and two FIFA World Cups.
Significant past players:
Antonio Carbajal, Carlos Hermosillo
-- Winner CONCACAF Gold Cup 1993, 1996, 1998
-- Winner FIFA Confederations Cup 1999
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