BUENOS AIRES - Sven-Goran Eriksson's Mexico visit Honduras on Wednesday needing a point to avoid the risk of being knocked out of the World Cup. Former England coach Eriksson will be well aware that Enrique Meza, one of the Swede's predecessors, lost his job after a 3-1 defeat at the same stadium in San Pedro Sula seven years ago. On that occasion, the Mexicans were able to bounce back but there will be no second chance if they lose again and Jamaica beat Canada by a sufficiently large margin in Kingston the same evening. Mexico, needing a top-two finish to qualify for the final stage of the CONCACAF region's qualifiers next year, lead semi-final Group Two with 10 points, followed by Honduras on nine and Jamaica on seven. Mexico's goal difference is superior to Jamaica's by seven, meaning that they could only go out if both Honduras and Jamaica win and at least one of them does so by a large margin. That makes the possibility of a Mexico failure small, but still real enough to haunt the public, media and sponsors. "We have to play an intelligent game, defensive organisation will be important but we also have to attack," said Mexico captain Pavel Pardo, set to make his 144th appearance. "We have to go out and attack, we have to be convinced that we can win." Benfica striker David Suazo returns for Honduras, who made their only World Cup finals appearance in 1982 and are coached by Colombia's Reinaldo Rueda. Former England international John Barnes is set to make his debut as coach of Jamaica, who pulled themselves back into contention with single goal wins over Mexico and Honduras at home under interim Theodore Whitmore. Jamaica's best hope of going through would be a Mexico victory as that would leave the Reggae Boyz needing a straight win against Canada to qualify. A draw in San Pedro Sula would mean they would have to win by at least six goals to catch Honduras on goal difference. Group Three has already been settled with Costa Rica and El Salvador progressing while the United States have taken one of the places from Group One. Trinidad & Tobago need only a point at home to eliminated Cuba to follow them and, even if they fail to win, would only go out if Guatemala won away to the U.S.
18 November 2008
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