Miguel Herrera will sit on Mexican soccer’s throne for the foreseeable future.
While serving as interim head coach, Herrera guided Mexico’s men’s national team past New Zealand in a two-game World Cup qualifying playoff series this week. ESPN reports Mexican soccer officials have decided to give Herrera the job on a permanent basis and allow him to lead “El Tri” (as the national team is known) at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Herrera has technically been on loan from defending Liga MX (Mexico’s first division) champion Club America since taking the national-team job last month. He will return to Club America in time to lead its title defense in the Liga MX playoffs, which begin on Saturday. Mexican officials will meet on Dec. 2, where it is expected that they will announce the decision to retain Herrera.
Mexico turned to Herrera after El Tri struggled in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The regional giant won just two out of 10 games, scoring just seven goals in the process. Mexico floundered under Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre, Luis Fernando Tena and Victor Manuel Vucetich during its dreadful hexagonal run and only qualified for the playoff against New Zealand because bitter rival United States beat Panama in stoppage time in the final game of CONCACAF qualifying.
Herrera was Mexico’s fourth coach in six weeks when he took charge. Facing a two-game audition, he relied on familiar faces to restore chemistry and confidence on the national team. He chose seven Club America players as starters in the first game against New Zealand. The move paid off as Mexico won 5-1 at Azteca Stadium on Nov. 13 before winning 4-2 in New Zealand on Wednesday.
Qualifying for the World Cup saved a lot of money and many jobs. It was estimated that business in Mexico and the U.S. stood to lose around $600 million if Mexico failed to reach next summer’s tournament. Giving Herrera the honor of leading El Tri in Brazil (and perhaps beyond) is a fair reward, considering what the alternative outcome would have been.
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