Mexico's poor scoring record at the Estadio Azteca during the CONCACAF Hexagonal – three goals in five matches – was one of the major reasons El Tri found themselves playing New Zealand in an intercontinental playoff for a World Cup spot on Wednesday.
But under new head coach Miguel "El Piojo" Herrera, they nearly doubled that goal total in a single match, with a convincing 5-1 win giving them a commanding aggregate-goal lead heading into the second leg next week in New Zealand.
"People will obviously get excited by what they saw," Herrera told the media in his postgame press conference. "And these players are going to give everything they have to win over there [in Wellington, New Zealand] as well."
Time and again, Estadio Azteca turned on its team during World Cup qualifying. And although El Tri labored for 32 minutes before finally breaking New Zealand's resistance on Wednesday, they eventually put on a show for the fans with five goals, including a brace by Santos Laguna forward Oribe Peralta.
"The truth is that the team was in debt with the fans and we repaid it to some extent," Herrera said. "[The debt] is not settled yet. We hope to give them more satisfaction by coming back from New Zealand and delivering to them the ticket to the World Cup in Brazil."
After a fourth-place finish in CONCACAF qualifying guaranteed Mexico a two-leg playoff against New Zealand, the Mexican federation decided to hand the reins of the team to Herrera, who also manages current Mexican champions Club América.
But it was only a short-term deal with one mission: Get the team to Brazil. Whether he stays on after the second leg in New Zealand – Mexico leave on Thursday on a 20-hour flight – is yet to be determined.
"I am coach for two games and that's the reality. I have won nothing. I won a game," Herrera said. "We're going to win the second [leg], I'm sure of it, and they [federation] will decide if I go to the World Cup with Mexico. They'll make that determination.
"But we have an extraordinary group of players in Mexico and in Europe and we can put together a sensational national team [for the World Cup], whoever has to do it."