Facts & figures: Mexico

Factbox on World Cup qualifiers Mexico: World Cup record:

Previous appearances in finals: 13

Best performances: Quarter-finals in 1970 and 1986

Coach: Javier Aguirre. A former Mexico international, he established his reputation in the domestic league with Atlante and Pachuca before taking over as national coach in 2001 and guiding the team to the World Cup a year later. A move to Spain with Osasuna followed with Aguirre doing well on limited resources and earning a move to Atletico Madrid. After being fired in February 2009 he returned to his homeland to replace Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson and brought about a turnaround in form to lead Mexico to the Gold Cup title and comfortable World Cup qualification.

Key players: Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz) Age: 36. Forward

Despite his age, Blanco still has the ability to turn a game with his tight control and moments of inspiration. He appeared in the 1998 World Cup and his `Blanco bounce', when he bunnyhopped with the ball, became a global talking point. He featured again four years later but was surprisingly left out in 2006. Hugely popular with fans, Blanco can make things happen.

Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul) Age: 30. Midfielder

Vastly experienced with more than 100 caps, Torrado holds together an attack-orientated side with his hard tackling, sensible passing and positional awareness. After spending five years in Spain, he has become the heart of the Cruz Azul and Mexico midfield.

Rafael Marquez (Barcelona) Age: 30. Defender

Classy central defender with plenty of European experience and an impressive reader of the game. Aguirre made Marquez captain at the 2002 World Cup despite the defender being only 23. Had four years in France with Monaco before moving to Barca where he was part of their Champions League-winning squad last season.

FIFA world ranking November 2009: 15

How they qualified: Almost missed out on qualification from the first phase under Eriksson, only making it into the final six on goal difference over Jamaica. Swede Eriksson went after a poor start and Aguirre led the team to a 2-1 victory over United States at the Azteca and a 3-0 win in Costa Rica.

Prospects: Aguirre has found the right balance and has the team playing with the attacking flair that Mexican football is known for. If the rearguard is up to the task against better opposition, the various forward options could produce some surprises.