Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Mexico’s most recognisable player, will not start Friday’s opening World Cup game against Cameroon.
In an unusual move, Mexico announced its lineup 24 hours before the game.
It’s the low point of what has been a dismal year for the 26-year-old.
Coach Miguel Herrara told ESPN’s World Cup Tonight, “Obviously he’ll come in handy when we need him. And when we use him, if he shines like he did at his first World Cup, there’s no doubt that he could be a starter for the following games.”
Chicharito hit back at the coach, telling reporters in Brazil, “I’ve never seen myself as a sub and I don’t like being one, and, believe me, I am tired of a lot of people seeing me that way, as a ‘super-sub.'”
Hernandez exploded onto the scene at the 2010 World Cup, scoring two goals in four games to raise expectations before his move to Manchester United. After scoring at least 10 goals in his first three years in the Premier League, he had a nightmare 2013-14 season.
David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson as coach last summer. Hernandez’s playing time went down as a result. He started six games in the league, appeared as a sub 18 times, and scored a career-low four goals.
At the same time, the Mexican national went through a crisis of its own.
They had four different coaches in six weeks at one point. El Tri only qualified for the World Cup because the United States, in a meaningless game, scored a late goal on the final day of qualifying to knock out Panama. In the ensuing World Cup playoff against New Zealand, Herrara used a team full of players from Club America, the Mexican professional team he coached.
Chicharito, once the team’s focal point, found himself on the outside looking in as the World Cup approached.
Mexico has a manageable path to the knockout stages, especially after Brazil beat Croatia in the opening game. But no one expects them to make any sort of substantial run, largely because guys like Chicharito and Andres Guardado aren’t at the level they were at in 2011 and 2012.
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