The match between the national teams of Mexico and Senegal on Wednesday night was just a friendly, a chance for mostly inexperienced players to catch the eye of their coaches. But the 15,588 fans that showed up at Marlins Park — particularly the large Mexican contingent — were passionate, nonetheless.
They wore huge sombreros, Mexican flags as capes, and many variations of red, green and white-striped wigs. And they went home happy with a 2-0 Mexico victory as temperatures dipped into the low 50s.
They didn’t seem to mind that the Mexican squad was missing its biggest stars — Europe-based Javier “Chicharito’’ Hernandez, Carlos Vela, Andres Guardado, and Hector Moreno. Those players were unable to travel because Wednesday’s friendly did not fall on a designated FIFA date, so their club teams did not release them.
The Mexican starting lineup was made up entirely of Mexican League players. Tigres was the best-represented with three starters — forward Jurgen Damm, midfielder Jesus Duenas and defender Jorge Torres Nilo. Duenas scored the first goal for Mexico, a header in the 73rd minute off a cross from Candido Ramirez, who had just come in off the bench. It was the Duenas’ first national-team goal.
Substitute Rodolfo Pizarro made it 2-0 in the 87th minute with a one-touch shot off a Hirving Lozano assist.
Among the veterans on the roster were midfielders Jesus Zavala (Monterrey) and Luis Montes (Leon), a 29-year-old who has played 17 games for the national team and missed the 2014 World Cup with a broken leg. Montes had a chance to score in the 10th minute, but his shot was deflected by a Senegalese defender.
Senegal had two great chances. The first was by 20-year-old Dame Gueye in the 29th minute, but Mexican keeper Jesus Corona made the save. Ibrahima Diop dribbled around Lozano in the 62nd minute, had an open look, but cranked his shot wide right.
The game was scoreless at halftime, leading to some boos from Mexican fans. By the end, they were cheering.
FIFA CANDIDATES TO MAKE PITCH
Four of the five candidates running to replace disgraced Sepp Blatter as FIFA president will be at the Miami Airport Sheraton Hotel on Thursday and Friday to present their vision at a meeting of the 41-nation CONCACAF (North, Central American and Caribbean confederation), according to a report by World Football Insider.
Each of the candidates — Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa and and Tokyo Sexwale — gets 20 minutes to make a pitch. Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein was unable to be here, but will make a video presentation. The FIFA election is Feb. 26 in Zurich, Switzerland.