MEXICO CITY // Mexico's success at the Confederations Cup may hinge on the performance of the Manchester United striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
Hernandez has been Mexico's only reliable scorer in recent matches, scoring 30 goals in 46 games for the national team – and five in Mexico's 10 most recent Fifa World Cup qualifying matches.
He was not sharp, however, in a qualifier against Costa Rica on Tuesday; the game finished 0-0 and Hernandez failed to register a shot. But more is expected.
"He's a player who fights for every loose ball, and he has the knack of never giving up," the Mexico coach Jose Manuel De la Torre said. "And he has a knack for scoring, too. He's a strong kid."
Mexico have played 10 World Cup qualifiers. You have to go back to the third game to find a match they won – 2-0 over Costa Rica – without a goal from Hernandez. And in that match the goals came from the defender Carlos Salcido and the midfielder Jesus Zavala.
"Here it does not matter who scores, or who doesn't score," De la Torre said.
Despite his words, it does seem to matter.
At the Confederations Cup, Mexico will be without Oribe Peralta, who scored four goals in six matches last year when Mexico won Olympic gold in London. He will miss the Confederations Cup with a leg injury.
"Oribe is a very important player, but I have always said no player is indispensable," the Mexico midfielder Victor Herrera said.
If Hernandez does not score, Mexico will need goals from unexpected places – from a player like the forward Aldo de Nigris of Monterrey.
Mexico's other top scoring threat is also absent – Carlos Vela of Spanish side Real Sociedad. Vela and De la Torre have had a falling out, with the coach saying Vela does not show 100 per cent dedication to the national team.
Mexico at a glance
Fifa world ranking 17
Qualified as Concacaf champions
Best Confederations Cup result Winners (as hosts) 1999
Other major honours Concacaf champions: 1965, 1971, 1977, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011
Coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre
Prospects Mexico are enduring an increasingly fraught final round of Concacaf qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, with one victory and five draws, including three scoreless draws at Azteca Stadium, formerly a fortress. “El Tri” have scored only three goals in six matches, and at present hold the third and final guaranteed berth to Brazil 2014, but are only one point ahead of Honduras and two ahead of Panama. Despite that, the Mexico Football Association has said De la Torre’s job is safe. A number of the players who secured gold at the London Olympics last year are included in the squad.
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