Mexico v Haiti, Gold Cup quarter-final, July 19, 2009
Mexico have failed to impress greatly in the Gold Cup so far despite topping their group to qualify for the quarter-finals. Javier Aguirreâ€™s side saw off a poor Nicaragua side 2-0 in the opener and then drew 1-1 with Panama and then beat Guadeloupe 2-0.
Under Sven Goran Eriksson, Mexicoâ€™s World Cup qualifying campaign was a shambles and they could well struggle to qualify for South Africa. They have continued to struggle somewhat and come into this game looking for some inspiration to get some momentum going for not just the rest of this tournament but also for the qualifiers coming up in August.
Most of the headlines surrounding Mexico at this tournament so far have concentrated on coach Javier Aguirre (pictured), the man who much faith has been placed to see El Tri through to South Africa.
The match against Haiti marks Aguirreâ€™s second of a three-game touchline suspension for kicking Panamaâ€™s Ricardo Phillips in the second match which was one of the most bizarre incidents in world football in recent weeks.
Crucially, if Mexico lose this game, Aguirre will also have to sit out the upcoming World Cup qualifier with the United States. Mexico are though heavy favourites to win this match and with a potential semi-final against Guadeloupe or Costa Rica, we will likely see a Gold Cup final against Team USA.
Arsenal fans may well be tuning in to see how Carlos Vela gets on. He picked up an injury in the first match of the tournament and the next few games could be crucial for the Gunners striker. Vela is one of a number of players who could step into the shoes of Emmanuel Adebayor at Arsenal and he is also a bright young hope for the Mexicans.
Another bright young star for both Mexico and a London Premier League club is Giovani Dos Santos. Unlike Vela, the former Barcelona forward has had a fine tournament and could play himself into Aguirreâ€™s long term plans.
Haiti should put up a good fight in this match, as they did in their last match against the USA. They were desperately unlucky not to win the match and Mones Cheryâ€™s second goal of the match was a fantastic strike that deserved to win the game.
An opening defeat to Honduras was followed by a 2-0 win over Grenada. Both games went true to form so the game against USA, despite being pegged back to 2-2 in injury-time, should have given them a lot of heart.
Much like Denmark in Euro ’92, Haiti didnâ€™t qualify for this tournament but replaced Cuba who withdrew. Had they defeated USA it would have been one of their best ever results and one can only imagine that the late draw may have galvanized them to produce another big performance against Mexico.
101predicts: Mexico 2 – Haiti 1 (15/2)