April 16, 2009

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico's fanatic fans are expecting new coach Javier Aguirre to be the club's savior -- even a type of superman.

Aguirre officially took over the team Thursday, but promised to be neither.

"I feel like any other Mexican. I've come to help, but I'm no savior," Aguirre told about 150 reporters and photographers crammed into the team's training camp south of downtown Mexico City. His news conference was broadcast live on TV, competing for attention with President Barack Obama's high-profile visit to the Mexican capital.

"I'm not going to emerge from a phone booth," he added. "I'm here to add something to the team, recover the team's identity and convince people that we can do things together."

Aguirre was appointed two weeks ago to replace Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson, who was fired after a humiliating 3-1 loss to Honduras in a World Cup qualifying match. England's former national team coach, Eriksson lasted only 10 months on the job and left Mexico in a tough situation if it expects to qualify for next year's World Cup in South Africa.

Aguirre is Mexico's fourth coach in three years and the fifth since Argentine Ricardo La Volpe was released after the 2006 World Cup. La Volpe was followed by Hugo Sanchez, Jesus Ramirez and Eriksson.

Aguirre, 50, saved Mexico once before, taking over the club in 2001 when it was struggling to make the Japan-South Korea World Cup. He got Mexico to the final 16 in that one, but left fans with a sour taste after Mexico was upset 2-0 by the United States and failed to reach the last eight.

His contract wasn't renewed, so he went to Europe and had successful stints with Spanish clubs Osasuna and Atletico de Madrid. He left the Madrid club two months ago following a seven-game winless streak.

His first game with Mexico will be a World Cup qualifier at El Salvador on June 6; El Salvador is winless in three World Cup qualifying matches.

Only three players remain from the team Aguirre last coached: defender Rafael Marquez, midfielder Gerardo Torrado, and goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez.

"It's an honor for me, a point of pride, to return home after seven years," Aguirre said. "It's not ideal to arrive in the midst of the qualifying, but I accepted it and I'm enthusiastic and filled with hope going to El Salvador."

Mexico is mired in fourth place in its CONCACAF qualifying group, with only the top three advancing automatically to South Africa. The United States (7), Costa Rica (6) and Honduras (4) top the group, with Mexico sitting at just three points in three games. Seven games remain for all teams in the group.

The fourth place team could also advance to South Africa if it wins a playoff against the No. 5 team from the South American qualifying region.

Aguirre said his contract expires when the World Cup ends, and he left his future in doubt. He said he had been contacted by two unnamed English clubs, but said no negotiations had taken place once Mexico expressed interest in his return.

You May Like