A comprehensive plan for El Tri in 2012
With only a few weeks remaining for El Tri fans to bask in the glory of 2011, the time has come to start thinking about 2012. Coach Jose Manuel de la Torre has plenty of decisions to make and Mexico's focus will be divided on two fronts in 2012: World Cup qualification and Olympic qualification.
With Mexico matched up against Honduras, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago in Carson, Calif., Olympic qualification, which runs from March 22 to April 2, shouldn't be a problem. Of course, if qualified, Mexico will face a stiff challenge to earn a medal in London this summer.
World Cup qualification shouldn't provide a perilous challenge for Mexico either, but there is always the danger of a misstep. Injuries to key players such as Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado or others can always hinder the best-made plans.
There will be a delicate balance as to which players who are eligible for Olympic qualification should be integrated into the senior national team to increase the team's odds of moving into the next round of World Cup qualifying. While a good showing at the Olympics would continue to boost Mexico's reputation, World Cup qualifying should always be the priority.
Here at the El Tri blog, we offer a blueprint as to how we think Chepo de la Torre should approach the first few months of 2012:
Put Marco Fabian and Jonathan Dos Santos on the World Cup qualifying team
Marco Fabian, 22, was arguably the most dynamic player in this past Apertura in Mexico. Though other players put up better statistics, Fabian was a critical component of Chivas' top-of-the-table regular season finish. When Fabian was forced to miss the first game of the playoffs due to injury, and then subsequently played at less than 100 percent in the second leg against Queretaro, Chivas suffered and were eliminated.
His maturity issues have been well chronicled. There was of course the suspension during the Copa America resulting from his participation in a party in which several players solicited prostitutes prior to the tournament. There was the controversy that came when he celebrated a goal by simulating an execution. But without a doubt, Fabian is talented enough to play for the senior national team. After having served his six-month suspension, Mexico should resist the urge to have Fabian earn his way back to the senior team by having him play for the Olympic squad.