Monterrey (pictured) celebrates after scoring against visiting Pachuca in the second leg of the 2016 Liga MX Clausura final. (Photo: Mexsport)
CANCUN, Mexico – Head coach Antonio Mohamed knows Monterrey’s prized pedigree in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
It is the only club in the competition’s history to lift the trophy three times, doing so consecutively from 2010/11 through 2012/13. Victor Manuel Vucetich held the managerial reins for each of those triumphs.
As the Rayados – coming off a runner-up finish in the 2016 Liga MX Clausura -- kick into preseason mode, Mohamed realizes that success in the upcoming SCCL could depend on how well they do in the group stage. Only the first-place team in each of the eight, three-team groups advances. Knockout-round seeding is based on the overall records of the eight quarterfinalists.
“The objective is to finish first in the Champions League group by a distance and in the second part of the tournament be able to finish at home,” said Mohamed, whose side will face Arabe Unido and Don Bosco FC in Group D.
Monterrey is conducting a training camp in Playa De Carmen in Cancun. Mohamed, however, will not have a full squad at his disposal due to injuries and players away on national team duty.
“We have maintained the base from last season and we have strengthened ourselves in some key areas which we had sought out to do,” commented the 46-year-old, a former Argentina international. “The only situation is that we do not have players due to injuries or national team call-ups, so really we only have a squad at 30 percent and that is not good for preparation. But I think that in a couple days, in a week, we are going to have more than 60 percent of the team ready for action.”
In particular, Mohamed referenced defender Cesar Montes and midfielder Alfonso Gonzalez, a pair Mexico under-23 players, and Edwin Cardona, who is with Colombia at the Copa America Centenario, as those yet to report.
“It is a little difficult because we do not know if Montes and Gonzalez are going to the Olympics, nor when Cardona is going to arrive,” he finished. “We are a little uncertain in that sense.”
Monterrey will host Puebla in the 2016 Liga MX Apertura opener for each on July 17.