Team: Mexico

FIFA Ranking: 19

Nickname: El Tri

It took a chop-and-change in coaches approach to finally see El Tri through to Brazil 2014. A lacklustre start to their campaign threatened their qualification, only for coach Miguel Herrera’s brave move to play only home-based players to pay off. In the process, they saw-off New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate to book themselves a flight to Brazil.

Boosting a pack of young and talented players, Mexico will be looking at using Brazil 2014 to build on the recent momentum and build for the future.

FIFA World Cup history

Mexico have fallen in the Round of 16 on their last five appearances in the finals, with Argentina halting their progress at both Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. Those defeats proved painful for El Tri’s legion of fans, who have been waiting a long time to see their side return to last eight. Only twice have the Mexicans made it to the quarters, both time on home soil, in 1970 and 1986.

Key Players

Javier Chicharito Hernandez, Andres Guardado, Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta

Coach: Miguel Herrera

Has a reputation as a coach who instils a strong sense of belief and discipline in his squad.
Herrera will have much to prove during the Brazil showpiece, to try and win the Mexicans’ hearts.

Country Profile

Mexico is the second largest country in North America with 31 states and a Federal State. The country has a large birth rate and 30% of the population is 14 years old or younger. Mexico City, the country’s capital has an estimated population of 22 million. The country is the largest Spanish speaking in the world.

Soccer is Mexico’s most popular sport, with baseball taking second place. Bullfighting remains popular in the cities. The country is a multi-party democracy with three main political parties; the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), the PAN (National Action Party) and the PRD (Party of the Democratic Revolution). The country has three levels of government; the federal, state and the municipal. Mexico City is the Federal District. The PRI was in power for 71 years before PRD took over in 2000. The country struggles with corruption, fraud and drugs.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, who is a member of the PRI party, was elected in 2012. Nieto is said to be focussing on the economy instead of the drug war in the country. Independent analysts say that it is for this reason that he is the least popular president in the country’s history with only 37% of the population approving of his performance. Mexican officials say that the citizens are unhappy with the stagnant economy and drug war violence.

The economy growth was at 1.3% during 2013. The country has the lowest minimum wage in North America and high food prices; a challenge for the food loving nation. There were more than 18 000 violent killings and more than 2500 kidnappings in 2013.
Mexico has also seen an increase in violence against activists and journalists, and the disappearance of debate in the public sphere.

• Full name: United Mexican States
• Population: 116 million (UN, 2012)
• Capital: Mexico City
• Area: 1.96 million sq km (758,449 sq miles)
• Major language: Spanish
• Major religion: Christianity
• Main exports: Machinery and transport equipment, mineral fuels and lubricants, food and live animals

– By Tshepo Tsheole and Lerato Matlala