Five keys for Olympic qualifying 

February, 24, 2012
02/24/12
8:21
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The Mexican Olympic team has reconvened with a flurry of activity over the past two weeks, after a long break following the Pan-Am Games triumph late last summer. Coach Luis Tena's team looks a little different from that version, having jettisoned the overage mainstays from last summer's tournaments, and added a few players who stood out in the Mexican League over the past few months.

With only a month to go to the Olympic tournament that will determine the region's tickets to London, El Tri is a prohibitive favorite to qualify. But the next few weeks, including a series of mini-camps and an upcoming friendly against the U.S. U-23s next week in Dallas, will go a long way towards determining how ready Tena's squad is for the qualifying challenge. Let's take a look at five key goals for the team over the next month.

1. Get Liborio some reps

Finding a starting goalkeeper for this group has been at the top of the to-do list for the last year. From last summer's Copa America through the Pan-Am Games, the U-23 goalkeeping duties were mainly handled by overage Jesus Corona, a decision which did little to further the effort to make the Olympic Games. With a thin pool at this age level, Tena should be thanking his stars that Liborio Sanchez emerged as a top-level keeper over the past six months.

The late incorporation of Sanchez -- a player with just one cap for Mexico, at the U-20 level -- won't help the fluidity of the defense, but it's imperative that he now step in and take the reigns quickly. Luckily, "Saint Liborio" has been tested over the past year in Queretaro, coming up big under the same type of pressure he'll face during Olympic qualifying when he was key to ousting Chivas from the Apertura quarterfinals. To get through to London, Mexico may need at least one big game from their goalkeeper, so the next few weeks will be important in getting him worked into the team with the confidence needed to shine at the international level.

2. Find the forwards


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Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.

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