Gerardo "Tata" Martino, who turns 60 a day before the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, is banking that he can be a transformative figure as coach of the Mexican national football team, dishing out tough love on the practice field and providing grandfatherly support off the field.
The coach, who took control of the national team on Monday, is aiming to win the Copa Oro next summer, using that continental competition to position Mexico for a deep run at the 2022 World Cup, which starts on November 21, a day after Martino hits 60.
Martino, the 2018 MLS Coach of the Year, is known for being demanding but also for cultivating good relationships with his players, taking them under his wing and serving as a father figure.
The Argentine coach takes over a Mexican national team whose fans are feeling frustrated after failing to advance beyond the round of 16 at seven straight World Cups and dreaming of making a run into the quarterfinals in Qatar.
Martino won the 2013 Supercopa with Barcelona in Spain and reached two Copa Libertadores semifinals, leading Newell's Old Boys, in 2013, and Paraguay's Libertad, in 2016, to the semis of South America's premier club tournament.
Among the players who Martino will be able to use as building blocks for the national team is talented forward Hirving Lozano, who plays for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven.
Other promising players are forward Victor Guzman; midfielders Diego Lainez, Roberto Alvarado, Orbelin Pineda, Erick Gutierrez, Daniel Lajud and Jonathan Gonzalez; defenders Cesar Montes and Edson Alvarez; and goalkeeper Raul Gudillo, among others.
With his ability to get the most out of his players, Martino is expected to help the team's youngsters develop quickly and leverage the experience of veterans for a big run at the World Cup.
The March 26 contest will pit the former Paraguayan national team coach against Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio, who now coaches the South American squad and led Mexico to the World Cup in Russia last year.
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