FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Mexico coach Miguel Herrera vowed to disrupt Brazil’s flowing game when the regional rivals meet Tuesday, but indicated he is unlikely to make room for Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez in a lineup that won their opening match.
Hernandez came on in the 74th minute against Cameroon, replacing goalscorer Oribe Peralta in the 1-0 victory in Group A. Herrera described Hernandez as a valuable player on the bench, saying he was pleased with the first match’s lineup.
“People can get heated up because they want to see Javier on the pitch, but they also understand that we need to use the best 11 at our disposal,” he said on Monday.
“(Hernandez) has had a difficult season … and he had a wonderful game when he came on. He gives us options.”
Showing little sign of frustration, Hernandez said Mexico should play to win, without reservation.
“If you aspire to do great things, you have to beat the best,” he said. “We know the pressure is on them and that could serve us well because they are a great team.”
Mexico came to Brazil after a troubled qualifying campaign, with the 46-year-old Herrera stepping in late to rescue them.
Looking ahead to facing the host nation, Herrera said his players have been told to deny Brazil possession in an encounter which he promised would be “physically demanding.
“We will attack across the width of the pitch, because that worked well against Cameroon,” he said. “But Brazil is not Cameroon and when we fall back there will have to be two or three of us for every Brazilian, to sever their lines of attack.”
Mexico lost 2-0 to Brazil in Fortaleza last year at the Confederations Cup, but has often caused trouble for the five-time world champions — winning seven of their last 15 encounters, including the gold medal game at the London Olympics in 2012.
Despite the rivalry, Mexican fans joined the party atmosphere on Monday along Fortaleza’s long beachfront and outside Arena Castelao, where some of the supporters sported giant sombrero hats and colorful wrestling masks.
Mexican fans staged an enthusiastic welcome for the players when they arrived late Sunday — a gesture that Hernandez said had not gone unnoticed.
“This has put us in a really good mood, because 2013 was a very difficult year, as far as the fans were concerned,” he said. “This year, I think we’ve paid back the debt we owed them.”
AP writers Carlos Rodriguez and Santiago Torrado in Fortaleza contributed to this report.
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