May 23, 2018 / 2:02 PM / 5 months ago

FACTBOX-Soccer-Mexico World Cup factbox

May 23 (Reuters) - Factbox on the Mexico national team ahead of the 2018 World Cup:

FIFA ranking: 15 (till June 7)

Previous tournaments:

Mexico have fallen at the last-16 stage in each of the last six World Cups — a record of extraordinary consistency but also a source of deep frustration for a soccer-mad country. Their latest painful exit was a 2-1 defeat by the Netherlands in 2014, after the award of a controversial late penalty.

Coach:

Juan Carlos Osorio, age 56. He had previously coached club sides in the United States, Mexico and his native Colombia, but his appointment in 2015 raised eyebrows because of his lack of experience at international level. Under Osorio, Mexico have 30 wins, eight draws and seven defeats from 45 matches but he has been criticised for his constant experimentation, deploying no fewer than 66 players. He was disciplined by FIFA for insulting match officials at a game against Portugal in the Confederations Cup last year.

Key players:

Guillermo Ochoa: The goalkeeper was Mexico’s standout player at the last World Cup, with two man-of-the-match awards. He shut out hosts Brazil in a draw that put Mexico through to the knockout stage, then repeatedly frustrated the Netherlands before being beaten twice in the closing minutes. His experience and agility will be key assets in a Mexican team that is brimming with attacking talent but could be stretched in defence.

Hirving Lozano: The pacy winger has been a revelation at PSV Eindhoven this season, with 17 goals from 29 appearances in the Dutch top flight. A skilful dribbler and set-piece specialist, he scored twice in an entertaining 3-3 draw away to Belgium last November.

Javier Hernandez: ‘Chicharito’ is Mexico’s record international scorer, with 49 goals, but only three of those came in his two previous appearances at the World Cup finals.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen striker has endured a difficult season on returning to the English Premier League with West Ham United, but at 29 the hugely popular Hernandez is still one of Mexico’s most influential players.

Form guide:

Mexico have three wins, two losses and a draw from their last six games — defeats against Honduras and Croatia, wins over Poland, Bosnia and Iceland, and a draw against Belgium.

How they qualified:

Mexico finished the CONCACAF eliminator in first place with 21 points: six wins, three draws and one defeat. Their only loss in the final qualifying stage came in the last round against Honduras, when they were already assured of top spot.

Prospects:

Mexico are drawn in Group F with Sweden, South Korea and defending champions Germany, whom they play in their opening game in Moscow on June 17. With the Germans expected to top the group, Mexico are likely to face a tough path even if they advance to the knockout stage, where they risk coming up against Brazil in the last 16. (Reporting by Mark Trevelyan and Carlos Pacheco Editing by Toby Davis)

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