- Associated Press - Friday, May 30, 2014

MEXICO CITY (AP) - With few big names in its squad, Mexico could find it hard to make it out of its World Cup group.

The Mexicans were drawn into Group A with Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon, and the absence of some European-based players won’t help.

Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez and Villarreal forward Giovani Dos Santos should be there, but Real Sociedad forward Carlos Vela - maybe the country’s top offensive player - is a notable absence. Vela has declined to play for the national team, citing personal reasons.

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Rafael Marquez will be playing at his fourth World Cup and is charged with bringing much-needed experience and leadership.

The former Barcelona defender, now Mexico’s 35-year-old captain, has had a mixed record since the last World Cup. Three injury-plagued seasons at MLS team New York Red Bulls seemed to mark the end of his career at the top level, but in December 2012 he signed for Mexican club Leon and led the team to a league title last year.

Marquez’s strength is starting Mexico’s attacks from his center back position and in reading the game. Opposition teams may seek to exploit his lack of pace.



Javier Hernandez is closing in on becoming Mexico’s top all-time goal scorer, but the Manchester United striker may not start in Brazil despite being the team’s most recognizable name and a regular since the last World Cup.

Lack of minutes in the Premier League has hampered Hernandez’s chances at the international level, and Oribe Peralta appears to be ahead of him in coach Miguel Herrera’s pecking order.

“Chicharito,” the nickname he wears on his shirt, is likely to play the role of substitute at the World Cup as he does for his club when it needs a late goal.

Known mainly for his ability to convert chances in the penalty area, a goal from Hernandez against France at the last World Cup helped secure a big win for Mexico.

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