World Cup Qualifiers Mexico keen to solve Columbus conundrum

Since 2001, the two nations have met four times in Columbus in World Cup qualifiers.

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The coach of Mexico's national football team, Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio, conducts a training session in Mexico City on October 4, 2016 play

The coach of Mexico's national football team, Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio, conducts a training session in Mexico City on October 4, 2016

(AFP/File)
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Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio believes his team has everything in place to finally end their Columbus jinx and get a victory over arch-rivals the United States in Friday's World Cup qualifier.

Since 2001, the two nations have met four times in Columbus in World Cup qualifiers and on each occasion the Americans have run out 2-0 winners.

But with a talented team featuring a number of players now performing in top European leagues, Colombian Osorio thinks that run of losses can end.

"Mexico has it all. Great goalkeepers, elite level defenders, midfielders who can compete and distribute and a high-quality attack that can trouble the United States," said Osorio.

"We have to penetrate them, hurt them and create problems," added the 55-year-old who has previously worked in New York and Chicago in Major League Soccer.

In the first clash in Columbus, which took place in freezing temperatures 15 years ago, Mexico did not warm up on the field and struggled with the conditions, but their coach said they would be ready for whatever awaits them on Friday.

"We have tried to cover all aspects, we have analysed the climate and we will use special thermal clothing so that players feel comfortable in the field," he said.

"We always play to win and tomorrow (Friday) will not be an exception. We will look for every chance we can get to win and won't be thinking about anything else," he added.

Skipper Rafa Marquez, who has played in three of the four defeats, says this is the best Mexico team to have come to Ohio.

"It's a great opportunity to change history," said the 37-year-old former Barcelona defender.

"We have never had so many players playing for clubs in Europe. The team wants to write a new positive page and we are hoping to write it on Friday," he added.

"I do not know if it was the mental, the physical or the weather (in the past) but what we do know is we can change this run," Marquez said.

US coach Jurgen Klinsmann said his team were delighted to return to the scene of previous successes.

"Everyone is excited to be back home in Columbus. It's a special place for us because it gave us so many good results. We want to continue that tradition if possible.

"We know it's going to be a very difficult game, a very close game and really anything is possible," he said.

One of the reasons that the US choose to play their greatest rival in Columbus is that unlike in some cities with much larger Mexican communities, they can be sure of a partisan home crowd. Klinsmann is counting on that backing.

"It means a lot to us to feel like this is our own crowd, they're going to push us, they're going to help us when maybe there's a difficult moment in the game, just to give them energy, to give them drive," he said.

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