Juan Francisco Palencia (pictured), a former Pumas player and Mexico international, was presented as UNAM's new head coach on May 31, 2016. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY – With a preseason camp scheduled to open a day later in Acapulco, Pumas conducted physical exams on Thursday for those players available to participate.
The activities at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México’s sports medicine department marked the official start of Juan Francisco Palencia’s tenure as head coach.
Palencia, who replaced Guillermo Vazquez last month, won two titles at the club as a player (2009 Clausura, 2011 Clausura). He’s eager to get started.
"We want a team that deserves to win, to train and play for it,” said the 43-year-old, adding, “that you never give up, transmitting that energy and professionalism into the stands.
“All the players are committed and I count on them to achieve this team vision that we want. We have to work hard to achieve it.”
After Pumas earned a place in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League by virtue of finishing as runner-up to Tigres in the 2015 Liga MX Apertura, the Mexico City-based side missed the 2016 Clausura playoffs. The club dropped to 10th place, going winless in eight of its last 11 matches.
That trend is one in which Palencia will look to change immediately.
"We will work with respect,” stressed the former Mexico international. “Basically, we are all in the same boat in order to achieve the team’s goal that we envision.”
The squad will leave Friday for a nine-day training camp in Acapulco, where it will also play some friendlies, before heading to the United States for additional warm-up games against Santos (July 2 in San Jose, California) and either Cruz Azul or Monterrey (July 6 in Dallas, Texas).
Pumas, which hasn’t won a CONCACAF club title since the 1989 Champions Cup, will face DirecTV W Connection and Honduras Progreso in the Champions League.