Mexico will start their preparation for the 2014 World Cup on January 29 against South Korea. The game will be held at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Hong Myung-bo released his 23-player list for the match, which only includes footballers from the Chinese, Japanese and Korean leagues because it is not an official FIFA date.
In other words, this means Bayer Leverkusen’s sensation Son Heung-Min, Wolfsburg’s midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol, lethal striker Ji Dong-Won and captain Lee Chung-Yong will miss the friendly.
Despite it all, the Taegeuk Warriors will be a great rival for El Tri.
For starters, Miguel Herrera will not be able to call the footballers who play overseas, i.e. Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos and Hector Moreno, among others.
This means Mexico will have the chance to display their talent from the Liga MX, which is extensive.
Will Mexico benefit from the game against South Korea?
Some players, like Rafael Marquez and Francisco Rodriguez, have been with El Tri for years; others, such as Carlos Pena and Miguel Layun, are on their way to becoming the cornerstones of the team.
There is also young blood; footballers who have already proven to be on the right track, for instance Hiram Mier (24 years old), Isaac Brizuela (23 years old) or Raul Jimenez (22 years old).
They have been playing professionally for at least three years and have proven to be poised for more.
Mier and Jimenez were instrumental in Mexico’s victory against Brazil in the 2012 Summer Olympics, while Brizuela won the gold medal in the 2011 Pan American Games.
If you take into consideration that several of the overseas footballers are not playing consistently, this kind of game will be key for Herrera to keep his options open.
Now that Antonio Mohamed is in charge of Club America, El Piojo will probably call players from more teams, unlike what he did in the playoff against New Zealand when El Tri was made up of almost every Las Aguilas player.
In the goal, he can count on Moises Munoz, who despite not having much international experience, has Herrera’s trust.
Other viable options can well be Alfredo Talavera, from Toluca, and Monterrey keeper Jonathan Orozco.
In the defense, he can give Mier a chance as a centre-back or as a right-back, especially if you consider that Rodriguez has not been in shape for a long time.
In the midfield, Herrera can go with Alonso Escoboza, who can be a very valuable asset through the left sideline, and Luis Angel Mendoza, who gives depth when he runs through the right flank.
In the attacking zone, Oribe Peralta should be the undisputed starter, but Herrera’s 5-3-2 system gives a second striker or attacking midfielder the chance to help El Cepillo.
Ideally, this would be Giovani dos Santos' position, but since he won't make the trip, Jimenez will take over.
Another benefit from the upcoming match is that the players will leave their hearts on the pitch.
El Tri have five preparation games before facing Cameroon in the World Cup, and only one of them is an official FIFA matchday (Wednesday, March 5).
This means more chances for the local players to show their abilities and skills in order to make the cut and get a spot in the final squad.
The competition will be fierce because the Liga MX footballers may be undisputed starters with their respective clubs, but they will have to compete with players of the likes of Guillermo Ochoa, dos Santos, Moreno and, hopefully, Carlos Vela.
There is no doubt that it will be tough for El Piojo, but if he calls the best and not the most famous, Mexico will be a very strong and balanced team by June.