FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Mexico coach Miguel Herrera will make one change to his starting lineup to face the Netherlands in the World Cup second round — and says his team is “ready to make history” on Sunday.
Versatile midfielder Carlos Salcido will replace suspended Jose Juan Vazquez in Fortaleza, Herrera said on Saturday, while Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez is set to stay keep his role as a second-half substitute.
Herrera believes his side can end Mexico’s dismal run of five consecutive failures to reach the quarterfinals at a World Cup, a feat it last achieved in 1986.
“We have a great atmosphere and a great attitude going into this game, and that is key. But we also have to play very well because we are facing a very difficult opponent,” Herrera said.
“Do we believe this could be Mexico’s World Cup? Yes, more than ever. We are very convinced that this time will be different for us, and we are ready to make history.”
Mexico faces the high-scoring Dutch after only conceding once during the group stage, beating Cameroon 1-0 before holding Brazil to a 0-0 draw, after an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, and then defeating Croatia 3-1.
Mexican fans are making their second trip to this northeastern city for the World Cup, having previously watched the 0-0 draw with Brazil. They gathered to welcome the players arrive late Friday — with their now-familiar chants of “Oribe Peralta,” after the team’s popular star.
Herrera, who rescued Mexico from qualification turmoil, has proved popular with the fans with his highly demonstrative style, which is being contrasted with his dour-looking Dutch opponent Louis van Gaal.
“I can’t compare myself with Mr. Van Gaal. He’s done such outstanding things, and its an honor to play against him .. This is my first World Cup,” Herrera said.
“Everyone has their own style, and I think our style has also been successful. The yelling and passion on the bench is contagious: See how the players run, right, and give everything they’ve got … Tomorrow we will leave our hearts on the pitch.”
Van Gaal returned the compliment, when asked about Herrera’s style.
“I have to say I like it. I like it if a coach lives with the team like that,” he said. “I saw an interview with him and he also has sensible things to say. What more could you want?”
Appointed to start next season as Manchester United manager, Van Gaal could end up watching Dutch star Robin van Persie take on his Old Trafford teammate Hernandez at Arena Castelao in Sunday’s game.
AP writer Mike Corder contributed.
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