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Mexico's Cup preparations to include England, Italy, the Netherlands

January 28, 2010 |  6:50 pm

Earlier today Mexico's national soccer foundation announced a series of six U.S.-based friendlies intended to prepare its team for this summer's World Cup in South Africa. It was a curious schedule, featuring just one other World Cup qualifier in New Zealand and other matches with Iceland and Senegal.

Now comes word out of Europe that Mexico will take a huge step up in class after breaking camp in North America in mid-May, having scheduled exhibitions with England, the Netherlands and Italy, three Cup favorites. The match with England is expected to be played at historic Wembley Stadium on March 24, although neither nation has confirmed the game; the game with the Netherlands will be played two days later in Germany. And the Italian news agency ANSA says El Tri will play Italy on June 3 in Brussels, Belgium.

"You can have the best practice systems, but competition is what will ultimately allow you to grow and play better soccer," Mexican federation President Nestor de la Torre said in a conference call with reporters. "We looked for the best teams in the world, world champions, that have star players that we believe we will get a lot out of to take with us down the final stretch and be ready for June 11."

Mexico hopes to schedule three more matches in Europe before its scheduled arrival in South Africa on June 4. Mexico opens the tournament against the host nation on June 11.

-- Kevin Baxter