Mexicans bank on youth

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 February, 2000, 12:00am

Carlsberg Cup champions Mexico breezed into town last night with a young squad determined to take the trophy home once again.

Coach Manuel Lapuente believes his youngsters can follow in the footsteps of World Cup stars Luis Hernandez and Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who helped the team triumph 12 months ago.

And he defended his decision not to bring the high-profile duo.

'We're using this tournament to prepare our young team for the World Cup qualifiers. That's why I dropped the more famous but older players,' he said.

'Hernandez and Blanco are unlikely to play in the 2002 World Cup so why should I bring them here?' He added: 'We're taking this tournament very seriously and we played three friendly matches against Iran, Guatemala and Romania before we came here.' Mexico begin the defence of their trophy - won with a victory over the Hong Kong League XI - with a match against Japan on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong XI are still struggling with injuries only three days before they take on the Czech Republic.

Coach Casemiro Mior will have his fingers crossed when he trims the squad down to 18 today as a number of key players - including Footballer of the Year Yau Kin-wai, Chiang Sai-ho, Kwok Yue-hung and Tam Siu-wai - are suffering injuries.

Mior is particularly worried about Chiang and Tam as they are rated the SAR's two best playmakers.

'These players might not be able to play in the first match because they aren't fit enough,' he admitted.