MEXICO CITY (AP) Colombian coach Juan Carlos Osorio took charge of Mexico’s national team Wednesday, becoming the 12th person to lead ”El Tri” in the last nine years.
Osorio replaces interim head coach Ricardo Ferretti, who had been in the job since Miguel Herrera was fired in July after he punched a TV reporter at an airport following Mexico’s victory at the Concacaf Gold Cup.
Osorio was most recently coach of Sao Paulo FC, stepping down last week after five months with the Brazilian club. He acknowledged his lack of experience at international level, but expressed confidence in his ability to get good results.
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”Opportunities come along and I know people will question me, more as a selector than as a coach. But I hope to get it right because this is a great opportunity and I hope to give everything to meet expectations,” the 53-year-old told a news conference in the Mexican capital.
Osorio will make his debut next month when Mexico hosts El Salvador and travels to Honduras in qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
He is the first Colombian to lead the Mexican national squad.
Ferretti was in charge for four matches including last Saturday’s dramatic extra-time victory over archrival the United States, which secured Mexico’s place at the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Argentine Ricardo La Volpe was the last to complete a four-year cycle with Mexico, leading the team to the knockout stage at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Since then, Mexico has had a revolving door of coaches who were often criticized for underwhelming results: Hugo Sanchez, Jesus Ramirez, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Javier Aguirre, Enrique Meza, Efrain Flores, Jose Manuel De la Torre, Luis Fernando Tena, Victor Manuel Vucetich, Herrera and Ferretti.
”We understand the great responsibility to the Mexican people, which is a football nation par excellence that historically has produced great football stars,” Osorio said.
Osorio coached Mexican club Puebla for 11 matches in the 2012 season, losing seven of those before being dismissed. That record has led to criticism of Mexico’s latest hire by some who came before him.
”It’s nothing personal. It’s football, and in a democracy everyone has a right to give their opinion,” Osorio said. ”I think my stint in Puebla was productive. We learned about Mexican football and it brought us together to make this decision today and to fully identify with Mexican football.”
After leaving Mexico, Osorio led Colombian club Atletico Nacion to three league and two cup titles before moving to Sao Paulo in May.
(An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling of Vucetich’s name)