Aguirre appointed Mexico coach again

MEXICO CITY - Javier Aguirre was named as Mexico coach for the second time on Friday, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) said. Aguirre, who resigned at Atletico Madrid in February, became Mexico's fourth coach since the 2006 World Cup. He succeeds Sven-Goran Eriksson, who was sacked on Thursday. "This appointment has the approval and the unconditional support of the general assembly of first division clubs and the committee of national teams," said the FMF in a statement. The 50-year-old was previously in charge from 2001-02 and led Mexico to the last 16 of the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, where they lost to the United States. Eriksson was fired after his team lost 3-1 in Honduras on Wednesday, their second defeat in three matches in the final stage of the CONCACAF zone's qualifying competition. Mexico are fourth in the six-team table with three points from three games and have seven to play. They need to finish in the top three to qualify directly for the World Cup while fourth place would mean a two-leg play off against the fifth team from South America. FOND MEMORIES Eriksson had been in charge for 10 months after replacing Hugo Sanchez, who himself lasted only 16 months. In between, Jesus Ramirez was at the helm for a two-leg World Cup preliminary round tie against Belize as a caretaker. Coincidentally, Aguirre was previously appointed after Enrique Meza quit following a World Cup qualifying defeat by the same score against Honduras in the same stadium. After Aguirre took over, Mexico won five of their remaining six qualifiers and drew the other to scrape into the 2002 finals, making sure of their place with a 3-0 win over Honduras in their final game. He finished with a record of 17 wins, four draws and six defeats in 27 games, also leading them to the final of the 2001 Copa America in Colombia. Despite their ignominious 2002 World Cup exit against bitter rivals the U.S., Mexicans fondly remember his spell when their team played bright, attacking football led by the flamboyant but temperamental Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Since then, Aguirre has coached in Spain, firstly with Osasuna and then Atletico. He led Osasuna to one Spanish Cup final and a fourth-placed finish in the Primer Liga, their best ever, during his four years in charge. This time, however, Aguirre might find things more difficult. Mexican football appears to have fallen into a rut, with a shortage of international class players, and FMF president Justino Compean admitted last week that it was in a period of stagnation. Mexico's lightweight players struggle against the more physical sides in the region and they were easily brushed off the ball during Wednesday's defeat in Honduras. They have become used to playing second fiddle to the U.S., who can now claim to be the region's strongest side, and have failed to win on their last 11 visits to their northern neighbours. Aguirre's first competitive match in charge will be a World Cup qualifier away to El Salvador on June 6.