Mexico has scheduled four summer friends to be played in the United States as part of its preparation for the 2022 World Cup, the country’s federation announced on Tuesday.
With the World Cup in Qatar looming at the end of the year, Mexico will travel to the US to play exhibition matches against Nigeria on May 28 in Arlington, Texas; Uruguay on June 2 in Glendale, Arizona; Ecuador on June 5 in Chicago; and Paraguay on Aug. 31 in Atlanta.
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The friendly in Chicago will mark the 100th match that the national team has played in the US since 2003.
« On the sports side, it’s extremely important, » said FMF president Yon de Luisa about the national team’s friends to prepare for competitive tournaments. « In terms of fan engagement, here we’re talking about over five million fans visiting the stadiums throughout these 19 years. »
Manager Gerardo Martino said in a Tuesday news conference that he hopes the matches will help « with the recovery of a footballing level that we have not had throughout [World Cup] qualify.
« I think we had very good qualifiers in terms of points, but where we have declined a lot is our level of play and I think that there will be a good opportunity this summer. »
Mexico also have a friendly lined up for April 27 in Orlando against Guatemala, and Martino said he is hopeful that 18-year-old Arsenal attacking midfielder Marcelo Flores will be able to take part.
« We are trying to get Arsenal to release [Flores] for the next call-up, » said Martino of Flores, who has one senior cap for Mexico, but also remains eligible for Canada and England.
Mexico qualified for the World Cup after finishing second in CONACAF’s Octagonal table to qualify for an eighth consecutive time in world football’s showpiece event.
Martino’s team landed in Group C along with Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia at the World Cup draw in Qatar on April 1.
There was some doubt as to whether or not Martino would manage Mexico at the World Cup after an uninspiring qualifying cycle, but the FMF confirmed on the same day as the draw that the Argentina would remain in charge for Qatar.