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So begins the final stage of World Cup qualifying for Concacaf.
On Thursday, regional giants Mexico will host Jamaica at the historic Estadio Azteca stadium.
Following some complications regarding roster call-ups that weren’t finalized until a few days ago, Jamaica will be preparing for the match at the very last minute.
As for Mexico, no matter the opponent, they’ll always remain the heavy favorites in a Concacaf battle at the Azteca.
And although they could be missing some names like Jamaica, Mexico have the depth to compensate for any issues.
|Mexico vs Jamaica Information|
|Teams||Mexico vs Jamaica|
|Location||Estadio Azteca (Mexico City, Mexico)|
|Time||Thursday, September 2nd at 7:00 pm PT/10:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, TUDN|
If we’re using the most recent regional competition as a measuring stick, how did the summer’s 2021 Gold Cup go for Mexico and Jamaica?
Looking over at Mexico, it was a decent showing for manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino and his men who finished as finalists in the tournament.
Despite the fact that they failed to win the Gold Cup, the argument could be made that they reached the minimum goal of qualifying for the championship game against the United States.
Ultimately coming down to a lone goal in the 2nd half of extra time for the United States, Mexico were incredibly close to a potential 12th title in the competition.
Jamaica, unfortunately, were watching from home after getting knocked out in the quarterfinals.
After a fairly quiet group stage that had them finishing 2nd in Group C, Jamaica were immediately pushed out of the tournament in the first knockout round.
It was far from their best, and looking ahead, a long list of key players will be absent for them against Mexico.
On paper, there’s a lot to like about Jamaica’s roster.
Boosted by a long list of names that play in England for respectable clubs, they should be able to emerge as a wildcard in World Cup qualifying.
That said, COVID-19 restrictions have complicated the matter.
In order to avoid lengthy quarantines when they return to England, most of Jamaica’s top players will only be available for an upcoming home game against Panama and not against Mexico.
Instead of the elite within the squad, Jamaica will instead need to rely on lesser-known names who player for smaller teams.
Due to this confusion in the process, the roster wasn’t finalized until literally three days before the game against Mexico.
Absences could make their way to Mexico as well.
At time of writing earlier in the week, there are no guarantees that star striker Raul Jimenez or mercurial winger Jesus “Tecatito” Corona will be available against Jamaica.
And yet, that might have much of an impact in the end.
Up top, Rogelio Funes Mori, Alexis Vega and Henry Martin should have no issues finding the back of the net at the Azteca.
In support, developing names like Uriel Antuna, Roberto Alvarado and Orbelin Pineda are all capable of overcoming any defensive obstacle that Jamaica provides.
Martino has no lack of options.
Due to an offensive and homophobic chant utilized by Mexico fans in previous games, FIFA sanctioned the national team by having this game played behind closed doors.
Nonetheless, it’ll still be a challenge for Jamaica.
Outside of the obvious notion that Mexico rarely struggles at the Azteca, it’s also worth noting that the high elevation is a constant detriment for visitors.
Sitting at a dizzying 7,200 feet above sea level, the stadium’s heights makes it difficult for teams that aren’t accustomed to the thin air.
Most importantly, with a roster that is made up of mostly domestic talent, Mexico themselves won’t need much of an adjustment period.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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