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World Cup 2014

Football: Mexico coach prasies Hernandez's attitude

Published on Jun 29, 2014 6:28 AM
Forward Javier Hernandez of Mexico's national team practices at the University of Fortaleza in Fortaleza, Brazil on June 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AFP) - Mexico boss Miguel Herrera insisted on Saturday that Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez remains a key player despite not yet starting a World Cup match.

Hernandez came off the bench to register his first international goal in a year as Mexico sealed their place in the last 16 with a 3-1 win over Croatia. Herrera said the striker would start as a substitute against the Netherlands in their last 16 tie on Sunday.

“He has been an important factor for the group and I am grateful he has never given up,” Herrera said at Mexico’s pre-match press conference.

“He could think he should start but those that have started have done very well and given us great results.

“My gratitude to him is that he is always waiting and also comes on with a great attitude, great determination and will also be a danger for the opponents.”

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal pleaded earlier for water breaks during the game due to the intense heat and humidity in Fortaleza.

Van Gaal was also concerned about the state of the pitch at the Estadio Castelao which meant neither side could train at the stadium on Saturday.

Herrera is hoping the conditions favour his side more than the Europeans.

“The heat and humidity affects both teams but we might adapt better because we play in the same conditions at some places in Mexico.

“We also have Mexicans playing in Europe, though, so it is difficult for them to play in these conditions too. The team will give their all and hopefully the conditions will be in our favour.”

Herrera’s men will have the benefit of having the majority of the support in the stands as thousands of Mexicans fans have poured into the city on the northern coast of Brazil to support their side.

“Mexicans will do everything possible to get to Brazil and to make us feel like a home team,” added Herrera.

“We know they will create a very vibrant atmosphere and from the anthems on they make us feel proud.”

Herrera confirmed that former Fulham man Carlos Salcido will replace the suspended Juan Vazquez in midfield in the only change from the side that started against Croatia in Group A.

And Herrera is confident that his side’s determination will be enough to carry them to a first ever World Cup quarter-final on foreign soil after falling at the last 16 stage in each of the last five World Cups.

“Apart from in 2006 in Germany, when Mexico were far superior to Argentina and only lost to a goal by Maxi (Rodriguez) that you see once in a lifetime, we have maybe lacked ideas or been taken by surprise by the opponent in the past.

“We don’t have that in mind this time. We know we will give our all and we have to show our determination as that is the key to how we play.”