Mexico coach Cocca leaves veterans Guardado, Herrera out of first roster

Mexico men's manager Diego Cocca has left out national team veterans Hector Herrera and captain Andres Guardado in his first 34-man roster for CONCACAF Nations League matches this month, while also including Feyenoord striker Santiago Gimenez and leaving the door open for dual-national Alejandro Zendejas.

Away against Suriname (March 23) and at home against Jamaica (March 26), Mexico will close out the Nations League group stage without six players (Alfredo Talavera, Rodolfo Cota, Alexis Vega, Rogelio Funes Mori, Guardado and Herrera) that were called-up for the 2022 World Cup.

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Vega, 25, is currently recovering from an injury. Of Mexico's five oldest players at the tournament, three (Talavera, Cota and Guardado) were left off this month's squad. Guardado -- Mexico's all-time leading appearance leader with 179 caps -- has stated in the past that the 2022 World Cup would likely represent his last appearance with Mexico.

A strong core of 20 players from the roster in Qatar remains, with noteworthy stars such as Guillermo Ochoa, Edson Alvarez, Raul Jimenez and Hirving "Chucky" Lozano leading Mexico in a new post-Gerardo Martino era.

Alongside them, Cocca has brought in reinforcements that were controversially left out of Martino's World Cup squad. Among them are Santos Laguna goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo, Tigres winger Diego Lainez and Gimenez, who has been on a blistering run in Europe with six goals since mid-January.

Recent Barcelona signing Julian Araujo is the only Mexican-American dual-national on the list, although Cocca expressed keen interest in recent U.S. men's national team call-up Zendejas.

Mexico's manager said during Thursday's press conference that he's chatted twice with the Club America winger and reiterated that he must still file a one-time switch to Mexico, if he chooses El Tri over the USMNT.

"The first [conversation] was to let him know that our intention was for him to be with us, and the second was to also make it clear that today he's not eligible, that he needs to sign a paper to be with the national team and the decision is his," said Cocca.

"We made the timeline clear so he can make a decision."

Players who could potentially make their senior Mexico debuts this month include Club Tijuana's Jose Antonio "Tono" Rodriguez, Pachuca's Roberto de la Rosa and Toluca's Marcel Ruiz.

Going forward, Cocca didn't rule out the possibility for more new faces and possibly even the reincorporation of older marquee players.

When asked about Mexico's all-time leading goalscorer, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, who hasn't played with the national team since 2019, Cocca admitted that he has talked to the LA Galaxy striker, but offered no guarantees about his future involvement.

"I've spoken with many players, including Chicharito. All Mexican players are options," stated Cocca. "I don't know what will happen tomorrow, today we chose 34 and the commitment of this team is to see all of those that can represent Mexico."

Ahead of El Tri's Nations League matches this month, the Argentine manager will host a short camp for a small group of players that will begin next Monday in the squad's Mexico City headquarters.

Mexico are heavy favorites in their last two group stage matches and need just two draws to finish at the top of Group A. El Tri would also finish in first with a win against Jamaica (regardless of the result vs Suriname), a win versus Suriname and draw with Jamaica, or two victories.

Second place in the group ensures a spot in the 2023 Gold Cup, while top spot guarantees a place in the knockout rounds of the Nations League.

Mexico's 34-man CONCACAF Nations League roster

Goalkeepers: Carlos Acevedo (Santos Laguna), Guillermo Ochoa (Salernitana), Jose Antonio "Toño" Rodriguez (Club Tijuana)

Defenders: Israel Reyes (Club America), Hector Moreno (Monterrey), Nestor Araujo (Club America), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey), Gilberto Sepulveda (Chivas), Kevin Alvarez (Pachuca), Jesus Angulo (Tigres), Julian Araujo (Barcelona), Jorge Sanchez (Ajax), Cesar Montes (Espanyol), Johan Vasquez (Cremonese), Gerardo Arteaga (Genk)

Midfielders: Luis Romo (Monterrey), Arturo Gonzalez (Monterrey), Roberto Alvarado (Chivas), Fernando Beltran (Chivas), Carlos Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Uriel Antuna (Cruz Azul), Marcel Ruiz (Toluca), Erick Sanchez (Pachuca), Luis Chavez (Pachuca), Sebastian Cordova (Tigres), Edson Alvarez (Ajax), Erick Gutierrez (PSV)

Forwards: Diego Lainez (Tigres), Hirving "Chucky" Lozano (Napoli), Orbelin Pineda (AEK Athens), Henry Martin (Club America), Roberto de la Rosa (Pachuca), Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton), Santiago Gimenez (Feyenoord)