There is a saying in Mexican soccer that says “the coach that debuts in a game, wins." Well that saying will not apply on Sunday, as two coaches make their debuts head-to-head with the game between America and Xolos de Tijuana at Estadio Azteca. It will be an afternoon of simultaneous debuts, both for Alfredo Tena with Las Aguilas, and Antonio Mohamed with Xolos, who were each hired by their respective teams during the past week.
America enter the match in dire need of a win. One of the big teams in Mexico, America currently sits at the bottom of the table in 16th place with only 9 points. The first half of the season has been a nightmare for the team of Coapa. America has managed to win only two games this season, while drawing three and losing four under the management of now ex-coach Carlos Reinoso. In comes Alfredo Tena, another idol in the America camp, who will try to lift this team over the second half of the season. Alfredo Tena managed America eleven years ago, which at the time was no easy task, and surely will not be an easy one today.
Like its rival, Xolos is also in a need for points. Not only does Xolos need points to hold onto hope of a shot at this year’s liguilla, but more importantly the team needs points to save themselves from relegation. Tijuana is sitting alongside America and Atlas, as the bottom three teams of the Apertura, with 6 points and only a single win. Ex-coach Joaquin Del Olmo had a difficult time bringing their winning ways from Mexico’s Liga de Ascenso to Mexico’s Primera, and last week became the latest of several coaches to be fired this season. In comes Antonio Mohamed, who has coached in Mexico for many years, and also won the latest edition of the Copa Sudamericana with Independiente of Argentina.
This is a crucial game for both teams and for both coaches. Every coach wants to start their coaching journey with a positive result. For both teams, anything less than a win might instantly begin to put more pressure on the new managers. Both America and Tijuana are trying to save what’s left of this season, and both teams are in need of points. Expect a high intensity game between these two in which the winner might begin to see that light at the end of the tunnel, and the loser, well, might start saying goodbye to this year's season.
America vs. Club Tijuana kicks off Sunday at 5:00 pm EST (2:00 pm PST), and the match can be seen live in the United States on Univision.