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Mexico vs. Australia: The start of the ‘Jimmy’ era

A tough Aussie side awaits in what will be Lozano’s first game as full-time head coach of El Tri.

Mexico v Panama: Final - 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Photo by Shaun Clark/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Less than 3 years removed from the 2026 World Cup, Mexico hope to have found their permanent and definitive head coach in Jaime Lozano, at least in what pertains to the current World Cup cycle. And despite having coached the NT to an impressive (and suprising to an extent) Gold Cup title, ‘Jimmy’ was just the interim head coach back then. Thanks to that run, he earned himself the real deal shortly after, signifying his first couple matches as El Tri’s full-time HC in the coming days.

As reported last week, Lozano called up 24 players for both matches. You can see the full list below.

The Australian NT currently find themselves ranked 27th in the world FIFA rankings. They’re 3rd best in their confederation (Asia or AFC) behind only Japan and Iran. This obviously is nothing to write home about, but then again, Mexico are ranked 12th. Yeah, 12th to Canada’s 43rd overall ranking. How is that even true? But I digress. The point being you can’t really trust FIFA rankings all that much, can you?

Well, something we can trust is the fact the Aussie squad were ousted in the 2022 World Cup round of 16 by eventual champs Argentina by a close 2-1 score. They came close to drawing even twice; once in the 80th minute and the other in the 90th + 7 minute. Things could’ve gone much differently, and credit to them for hanging around in the match.

In contrast to Mexico, who’ve played 10 official matches (Nations League and Gold Cup) along with 3 friendlies thus far in 2023, the Socceroos have only played the latter of that. Since their World Cup loss to Messi and company, these are Australia’s results:

3/24 vs Ecuador 3-1 (W)

3/28 vs Ecuador 1-2 (L)

6/15 @ Argentina 0-2 (L)

So, Mexico will officially become just rival number 3 of the year (and game number 4) on Saturday. And who exactly are El Tri up against? Have a look at head coach Graham Arnold’s squad below.

Filled with mostly players who compete in the English Championship, Italian Serie B, Scottish Premiership, none of the players from this list are considered elite by any stretch of the imagination. And despite proving they can compete with tougher teams, such as splitting their two-game set with Ecuador, they were completely run over by Argentina in their June friendly played in China. Had it not been for a little luck and a lot of keeper Maty Ryan, they could’ve easily had another 3 or 4 put up against them.

In other words, Mexico can expect a team who will look to play it safe, probably wait it out for a while, and look to counter, especially with El Tri playing as the home side in Dallas. Then again, their high press really worked in the first game with Ecuador and even helped them score, so if they identify that clear weakness Mexico have when coming out with the ball, they can really put Lozano’s side in a pickle.

In terms of things to watch for Mexico, Santi Giménez’s evolution in the NT is something that has many of us (myself included) on the edge of our seat. The fact you could finally have an elite striker (which is what he’s looked like so far at Feyenoord), along with a high-caliber player like Raúl Jiménez... man, that could be fun to watch. Along with Córdova and Cortizo, the former having dipped in form a bit since winning the Liga MX final with Tigres, and the latter appearing to come of age with Rayados over the past few months. It’s Lozano’s job to glue these pieces together over the next 33 months and make it look nice. Not to mention, we still need to add Hirving Lozano to the mix.

If anything else, an interesting and different test for Mexico this time around. A breath of fresh air in facing Australia as opposed to the typical CONCACAF rivals or lesser South American teams. These more unknown, yet quality football countries (such as Australia) pose a bigger challenge and make for a much more interesting matchup in these tough to watch friendlies at times.

MATCHUP: Mexico vs. Australia

DATE: Saturday, September 9, 2023

TIME: 9:30 pm ET | 8:30pm CT | 6:30 pm PT | 7:30 pm Mexico City

VENUE: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, Texas

TV: US - VIX, TUDN, Univision | Mexico - Azteca 7 (Azteca Deportes), Canal 5, TUDN México