Jamaica is preparing for its first CONCACAF Gold Cup final, as Mexico awaits in the decider in Philadelphia.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera warned his team against taking Jamaica lightly in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on Sunday.
Herrera’s men claimed a controversial 2-1 win over 10-man Panama after extra time in the semifinal in Atlanta.
El Tri needed a late penalty from Andres Guardado to equalize in regulation time, and a second Guardado spot kick saw them eventually capitalize on their numerical advantage.
Herrera had been under growing pressure at the helm after several unconvincing performances. His team only won one group game – thrashing Cuba – as it finished second to Trinidad and Tobago.
Mexico then scraped past Costa Rica thanks to a 124th-minute penalty from Guardado, and that spot kick was also controversial. However, Herrera’s team is just a win away from claiming the nation’s 10th Gold Cup crown – and it is the favorite to do so.
The coach said Jamaica had shown its quality, denying suggestions the tournament was easier after United States’ semifinal loss to Winfried Schafer’s side.
“United States played a great game, came, but did not take chances,” Herrera said. “Jamaica plays well, keep possession well and have quick players. We have to be attentive, nothing is easy.”
Guardado has scored five goals at the tournament, including all three of Mexico’s goals in the knockout stages – all from the penalty spot.
For Jamaica, Sunday’s clash at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia will mark its first Gold Cup final.
Schafer’s men finished top of their group before edging Haiti and upsetting USA on their way to the final. Former Derby County and West Brom attacker Giles Barnes, now at Houston Dynamo, and Reading winger Garath McCleary have led the way.
Mexico feared it would be without Guardado for the contest, but the midfielder has been cleared to play. However, the Dos Santos brothers, Giovani and Jonathan, are both uncertain for the final and Carlos Vela, who picked up a pair of yellow cards in the knockout stages, is suspended.