Football: 'Dreadful' Mexico risk missing World Cup

Landon Donovan #10 of the United States Men's National Team and Jermaine Jones #13 of the United States Men's National Team defend against Giovani dos Santos #10 of the Mexico Men's National Team in the first half at Columbus Crew Stadium on Sept 10,
Landon Donovan #10 of the United States Men's National Team and Jermaine Jones #13 of the United States Men's National Team defend against Giovani dos Santos #10 of the Mexico Men's National Team in the first half at Columbus Crew Stadium on Sept 10, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio. Mexican newspapers had little love for their national football team on Wednesday as "El Tri" faced the humiliating prospect of missing the World Cup finals for the first time in 24 years. -- PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - Mexican newspapers had little love for their national football team on Wednesday as "El Tri" faced the humiliating prospect of missing the World Cup finals for the first time in 24 years.

Mexico have featured in 14 of the 19 previous World Cups and have not missed a tournament since being banned from the 1990 finals in Italy.

However, after losing 2-0 to the United States in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday they sit in fifth place in the six-team CONCACAF regional group.

With only the top three qualifying for the finals in Brazil, and the fourth-placed team advancing to a play-off against New Zealand, Mexico will be out unless they can reverse their fortunes in the final two qualifiers.

"TRItanic" was the headline in Excelsior newspaper while the Cancha sports pages said the team now need a "miracle" to book their ticket to Brazil.

Meanwhile, the sports daily Record bemoaned the team's "dreadful" showing in Ohio.

"The prestige of Mexican football breaks into pieces and the dream of going to the World Cup hangs by a thread," warned Record.

The United States lead the six-team group by a point from Costa Rica, with both nations already having qualified for the finals.

At the moment, the third direct qualifying spot belongs to Honduras, who have 11 points. Panama are fourth with eight points, level with Mexico but ahead thanks to a better goal difference.

In crisis mode, Mexico could be set to appoint their third coach in four days on Wednesday.

The Mexican football federation fired Jose Manuel "Chepo" de la Torre on Saturday, one day after his side's humiliating defeat to Honduras in Mexico City's Azteca stadium.

He was replaced by Luis Fernando Tena, who coached the team that won the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, and the interim manager said after the loss to the United States that his future would be discussed on Wednesday.

In a section containing unfancied nations such as Panama and Jamaica, Mexico were widely expected to cruise to Brazil in 2014, especially with a team featuring stars like Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez of Manchester United, Giovani dos Santos of Villareal, Andres Guardado of Valencia.

But Mexico have only won one of their eight qualifiers to date, drawing five.

They now face a win-or-bust game against Panama at the Azteca on October 11 before a final showdown in Costa Rica on Oct 15.

Mexico last missed a World Cup finals in 1990 when the federation was banned from international competitions after using over-aged players in an under-20 championship.