Siesta situation

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

Mexico has good reason to be relaxed in Edmonton.

Heading into their game this afternoon against New Zealand (3:15 p.m.) at Commonwealth Stadium, Mexico is free and clear, having already clinched first place in their group at the Under-20 World Cup.

For that reason, head coach Jesus Ramirez has the luxury of resting some of his key players.

STILL WANT TO WIN

"For us it's very important to win this game to confirm and affirm what we believe - that we are a very good team," Ramirez said yesterday. "Whatever players we decide to put on the field, the objective is to win the game.

"I had planned to play all the starters all along, with the exception of the ones who picked up yellow cards in the first two games. That's still the plan."

Unfortunately for Mexican fans one of those players on a yellow card is Giovani dos Santos. The star striker picked up his yellow card in a 2-1 win over Portugal Thursday in Toronto.

Another yellow card this afternoon and dos Santos would be suspended for Mexico's second-round game. Therefore it's unlikely Ramirez would take a chance and play him.

"Giovanni is a very important player to our team," he said. "He's a player who is very fast, very skilled with a very good shot. He's very inventive and a very intelligent player."

Regardless, the Mexicans still have plenty of bullets. The team has 11 players on their roster that won the Under-17 World Cup in Peru two years ago.

For that reason Mexico was considered one of the favourites heading into this event. And after their opening two games, they are living up to their billing.

"We are very confident, very prepared and we believe we can win this tournament," said defender Patricio Araujo. "Saying that, we have to be prepared for every opponent regardless of where they're from. For now the only thing that matters is the next game. The only thing we're worried about is winning (today)."

Mexico played it's first two group matches in Toronto. They defeated Gambia 3-0 in their first game prior to their impressive victory over Portugal. They are one of three teams to win their first two games.

"All of us know it's important to be focused in a tournament like this because it's a once-in-a lifetime opportunity," Araujo said.

"The Under-20 World Cup is a tournament none of us are ever going to play in again. Now that we are here, it's very important for all of us. We don't look at this as a sacrifice, but more so an opportunity of a lifetime."

New Zealand heads into the contest having lost its first two games. They were beaten 2-0 by Portugal and lost 1-0 to Gambia.

"We think Mexico is a team that rely on their front three players," said New Zealand head coach Stu Jacobs. "We're a team that are hard workers and we have some ability going forward ourselves, which is what we have to do (today)."

OFF TO MONTREAL

Having already clinched first place, Mexico know they are heading to Montreal for their second-round game in the tournament.

There, they'll play a third-place team from one of the other groups. Which one really doesn't matter to Mexico.

"In reality it's tough to chose who you want to play in the second round," Ramirez said. "We don't know who would be a better opponent for us. Whoever we play is fine with us. I don't think we'll be playing Zambia, it could be Uruguay it could be Congo. But like I was saying whoever we play it doesn't matter."


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