Mexico Camp Focus – A week of promise ends in uncertainty for Franco

Having scored at Wembley on Monday, things were looking up for Guillermo Franco. The disappointing season with West Ham had drawn to an end and the forward was concentrating solely on the World Cup. But just two days later, the good start to the week had been turned on its head. In the build up to Mexico’s friendly with the Netherlands, Franco – still nursing an ankle injury – was informed that his contract at Upton Park would not be renewed. He said: “I don’t know where I’ll be next season. The club told me ‘bye bye’ so I won’t be with West Ham.” The 33-year-old was rested in the 2-1 defeat and did not feature in the 5-1 win over Gambia just days later. Now normally, making sure that your star player is fit for the tournament would be Coach Javier Aguirre’s primary aim, but one man’s loss is another’s gain.

In Franco’s absence, Javier Hernandez has proven not only to be an able deputy but has put himself in contention to be a starter in the Aztecas’ opening game against South Africa. Against Gambia, he ran riot. Partnered with Carlos Vela in attack, Hernandez’s pace caused the North African side countless problems and had it not been for goalkeeper Pa Tembo Touray he surely would have gone home with the match ball. Hernandez will receive all the plaudits for his 55-minute workout against Gambia – he was rested shortly after grabbing his second goal – but his outing against a strong Dutch team will hold greater significance. He lead the line well, capping his performance with a well-taken headed goal.

With Franco still doubtful, Aguirre will be optimistic that he can be fit, but the game against Gambia provided the other contenders with one final chance to put themselves in the former Atletico Madrid Coach’s thoughts. Alberto Medina continued his form from the friendlies in America by scoring after coming on as a substitute. Vela, partnered with Hernandez, struck the post and was a constant threat that created chances for others. Adolfo Bautista replaced Vela and capitalised on a tired Gambian defence by bagging two late goals whilst Cuauht

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