Mexico vs Honduras: Mexicans seek comeback. Who will qualify for the Copa América?
On Tuesday, November 21, the tension will take over the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, as Mexico faces off against Honduras in the second quarter-final match of the Concacaf Nations League, with both teams vying for a spot in the 2024 Copa America.
The Mexican team will be looking to overturn the disadvantage suffered in the first leg on Friday, November 17, when Honduras claimed a 2-0 victory. The defeat, with goals from Anthony “Choco” Lozano in the 30th minute and Bryan Róchez in the 72nd minute, left Mexico in a complicated situation.
The unexpected absence of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, a mainstay in the Mexican goal since the 2014 World Cup, added an additional challenge for El Tri. Ochoa’s injury in the first leg was an unexpected blow, and his absence was felt across all lines as the team succumbed to the quality of the Honduran play.
Now, Mexico needs to win by an identical scoreline to force extra time or secure a three-goal difference without conceding to advance. The historic atmosphere of the Azteca Stadium, with the passion of the fans, will be the stage where Mexico will seek redemption and progress in the competition.
In the first half of the second leg, the Mexican team immediately sought to attack the Honduran goal to narrow the two-goal deficit. They managed to secure the advantage they were looking for before halftime, with midfielder Luis Chávez scoring a powerful free kick in the 43rd minute to make it 1-0.
In the second half, the Mexican team desperately searched for the goal that would secure their spot in the 2024 Copa America. They continuously pushed forward with the support of their fans, but struggled to find the breakthrough they needed. It wasn’t until the 100th minute, when a poor clearance led to Edson Álvarez scoring the equalizer, sending the game to extra time.
After finishing extra time with no change in the scoreline, the match went to a penalty shootout to determine the winner. In a controversial penalty shootout, Mexico secured their direct qualification to the Copa America with a 4-2 victory on penalties.
The decision to appoint Jaime Lozano as the permanent coach of the Mexican national team was made knowing that one of his weaknesses was his lack of experience. The “Jimmy” Lozano acknowledged this after the match, stating, “From the first half, we didn’t know how to find the players who had the most potential to harm them, but we will improve.”
Ochoa’s injury has forced a change, with Luis Malagón of Club América set to start in goal for the second leg. Other potential changes include Uriel Antuna replacing Orbelín Pineda in midfield and Luis Chávez replacing Luis Romo in the defensive midfield position.
The defeat against Honduras was only Lozano’s second in 11 matches in charge of the Mexican national team. As they look ahead to the Copa America and beyond, Mexico will be aiming to improve and continue their progress under Lozano’s leadership.