Last Update:- 19th January 2007 08.51am
Our old manager, Hugo Sanchez, has put together his first Mexican Nacional Squad. This is just for a mini-camp, and is NOT the final squad for the "friendly" v USA on 7th February. As such, he said he would not call the European based players, nor any America players, so as not to take them from important club games. They will be considered for the match. When asked if he would only pick Pumas players, he said "No, I will also pick Necaxa players, for example" - guess which two he picked!
Not entirely surprisingly he picked no less than 7 players who helped him win the bicampeon with Pumas, those in bold still with us. Sergio Bernal, Joaquín Beltrán (Necaxa), Israel Castro, Gerardo Galindo (Necaxa) , Jaime Lozano (Tigres), Gonzalo Pineda (Chivas) y Francisco Fonseca (Tigres).
After rather complicated and protracted discussions the Mexican national player Juan Francisco “Paco” Palencia has joined us from Chivas USA. We paid his owners, Chivas, US$500,000 for the veteran of the 2002 Japan/Korea campaign. He came on for Borgetti after the wonder goal v Italy, but did not take part in the humilating defeat by the USA. A central striker he has played most of his career with Cruz Azul before moving as a “luxury” squad player at Chivas in 2003. His stats in Mexico are here.
Ailton Da Sliva is a Puma once again. He left a year ago for San Luis after falling out with Miguel España. He says he is delighted to be returning to the Mexican club he loves. Monday he drove up to Guadalajara to join the lads. He is, ironically, returning in the same way he left 12 months ago:- six month loan, with option to buy afterwards. Tuca had said he wanted a left-sided attacking player, and there are few more exciting than him. I guess this will mean Leandro will go back to a more central role.
In an odd move, another old boy, who came back a few months ago and has been with Pumas Morelos, Christian Ramírez has been promoted to the first team. He is a central defender, but not sure I can really see him challenging the current players there. His stats.
Fernando Morales has left us for Necaxa on a six month loan deal. Makes sense, but I would rather have seen him play than bringing back Ailton.
Reinaldo Jose Da Silva has gone. He didn’t get the goals they had hoped. I feel sorry for Reinaldo, as he clearly has something to offer, yet did not really settle, never really looked in shape. He has struggled to settle at any club, I think he will eventually find the right club for him, probably not in Mexico. I wish him all the best
Also leaving us is the goalkeeper coach Olaf Heredia, who has got a gig alongside Hugo Sanchez in the national setup. Also joining Hugo will be one of our doctors, Roberto Rodríguez, but he will continue to be with us. Hugo asked for him personally, it is said.
The Interliga in USA is underway to decide the last places for Mexico in the Libertadores 2007. Tuca has called it a piece of rubbish. Follow it here Necaxa and America will join Toluca in the Libetadores 2007.
A new summer competition has been annouced involving teams from Mexico and USA. Pumas not involved, but LA Galaxy are. It will all take place in the USA, and is called "SuperLiga" which is pretty stupid.
Bruno Marioni has been unveiled by Argentine giants Boca Juniors. I had a chat with some fans in Buenos Aires last week, and they all seemed to be happy with this signing. Cruz Azul have got the Mexican National teams highest scorer of all time, Jared Borgetti. After seemingly endless rumours and negotiations Francisco "Kikin" Fonseca has joined Tigres for two and a half years. Make no mistake, he will help steady there ship. Oswaldo Sanchez, for many the best Mexican goalie has gone from Champions Chivas to relegation favourites Santos, who have got a lot of new players, including Ludueña from Tecos, but have lost "Pony" Ruiz to ..... Tecos - both teams desperate for a shake up after very poor Apertura 2006, putting them in relegation trouble. Also a big shake up at Veracruz, who have lost 13 players, but have got Chamagol Gonzalez from Tigres, and old Cesáreo Victorino, if you remember him. Still no idea what he spent the last six months doing.
Pre-Season and Friendlies
The pre-season was spent in Gualajara. The first friendly, away at San Luis on Saturday 6th January, resulted in a 2 all draw, our goals coming from Leandro (free kick) and Chupa Lopez (from a Parejita pass). Palencia started but got a knock in the face, and was replaced by Chupa after just 12 minutes. Should not be too serious. Full line up:- Sergio Bernal, Jehu Chiapas, Israel Castro, Darío Verón, Alex Diego, Efraín Velarde, Antonio Sancho, Leandro Augusto, José Luis López, Ignacio Scocco, Francisco Palencia.
Wednesday afternoons friendly v Atlante also finished two each, goals from Chiapas and Leandro (again), both from Parejita assists. Full line ups:- Sergio Bernal, Israel Castro, Efraín Velarde, Darío Verón, Alex Diego, Jehu Chiapas (Ismael Iñiguez), Antonio Sancho, Leandro Augusto, José Luis López, Ignacio Scocco y Francisco Palencia. Palencia played the whole 90 mins, and says he feels fine. Not sure where Pikolin is.
Last friendly on Saturday 13th Janaury ended up in a two nil victory for Pumas over Lobos BUAP, both goals coming from Ariel Lopez. This is a Primera "A" team. The team was:- Sergio Bernal; Israel Castro, Darío Verón, Álex Diego, Efraín Velarde; Antonio Sancho, Leandro Augusto, Ismael Iñiguez, Juan Francisco Palencia; Ignacio Scocco, Jehu Chiapas. and the subs:- Ariel López por Scocco (46’), Pablo Bonells por Palencia (68’), Fernando Espinosa por Chiapas (68’), Fernando Santana por Íñiguez (76’), Christian Ramírez por Velarde (83’), Damián Tapia por Verón (83’) y David Cabrera por Leandro Augusto (83’).
Have started their season also on Sat 13th, with a great victory over an America affiliated team, Socio Agulias. This is a lovely start for the lads, with the goals coming either side of the break, both by that man Pedro Solis. I really want to see him at CU this term. The first from a great pass by Gaston Caprari, the second from a David Toledo corner. The full line up:- Pumas Morelos: 26-Odín Patiño; 51-Daniel Jaramillo, 35-Horacio Franco, 37-Jorge Méndez, 33-Franz Torres (22-Orlando Pineda 69’); 48-Elías Reis, 42-Gerardo Alcántara (43-Ricardo Balderas 78’), 47-Luis Rosas; 40-Gastón Caprari, 44-Pedro Solís. D.T. José Luis Salgado.
1st game (Atlas at home) will be Sunday 21st January 2007, noon. Veracruz away the following weekend, if anyone fancies going? Full fixture list here. Its the same as last year, and with two games on Wednesday night.
Under-20 Mexican Players
A couple of our lads called up to the under-20 national colours, Hector Moreno and Pablo Barrera, good luck to them.
Ailton Da Silva (Bra) from San Luis STATS
Christian Ramírez Díaz (Mex) from Pumas Morelos STATS
Juan Francisco Palencia (Mex) from Chivas USA $500,000 STATS
Reinaldo Jose Da Silva (Bra) STATS
Fernando Morales (Mex) to Necaxa (6 month loan) STATS
What can we expect?
More of the same as last year, I hope, although I would expect now for us to see 4-4-2, with Bernal already confirmed as number keeper. Defense:- Velarde and Castro full backs, and Veron obviously. Nothing has been said, but Pikolin has not featured in any of the friendlies, so not 100% sure about this. Midfield:- I would expect to see Sancho and Leandro in the middle, and Pareja and Ailton out wide. If Sancho is suspended I guess Espinoza will come in at right back, and Castro into contencion. What worries me is that when Ailton is suspended (he will be), Leandro will have to move out to the left again, which was never ideal. With Morales out, we do not have cover there. Attackers:- well, it did seem clear that Tuca was going to see Scocco and Palencia as his starting two, which suits me fine. I guess Chupa would be cover for Scocco, and Gonzalez for Palencia. But we have seen that Tuca is very happy to mix up his strikers, and we have lots of young 'uns in Cuernavaca.
And don't forget the Descenso. We did a great job last season, but it is only half done, and teams in the trouble zone have been buying a lot.
13rd Tigres 104 from 85 1.2235%
14th Tecos 104 from 85 1.2235%
15th Pumas 104 from 85 1.2235%
16th San Luis 61 from 51 1.1961%
17th Santos 95 from 85 1.1176%
18th Queretaro 18 from 17 1.0588%
That includes the -3 points for Queretaro and San Luis for failing to play young players - really getting themselves into trouble there.
NB – as further information becomes available, and rumours confirmed or denied, this column will be edited, not commented.