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World Cup: Aguirre talks about one Dos Santos but not the other

June 2, 2010 |  2:53 pm
Mexican Coach Javier Aguirre spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since his controversial decision to leave midfielder Jonathan dos Santos off his World Cup roster. And not surprisingly, that's the one subject he refused to talk about.

But he did talk about Dos Santos' brother Giovani, who remains a crucial part of Mexico's team despite the fact the boys' father has told reporters at home that Giovani no longer wants to play.

"I'm going to talk about Gio because he is on the team. I'm not going to talk about other stuff," Aguirre said before his players worked out in Brussels ahead of Thursday's exhibition with defending World Cup champion Italy. "I would have to talk about a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with me, soccer or the Mexican national team.

"In effect, Giovani went through a complicated time. Obviously he was upset, sad. We talked in general terms and specific ones and he is very motivated because he believes this could be his World Cup. I believe that as well."

But Aguirre also said Giovani "absolutely" understood why his brother, who was coming off an injury, was cut.

As for issues on the field, Aguirre said the lineup he starts against Italy could be the one Mexico will use in its World Cup opener against South Africa next week.

Thursday "is our final exam, the last preparation game, and I want to take advantage of that," he said.

Aguirre was coy about one position, however. He is reportedly leaning heavily toward starting 37-year-old Oscar Perez in goal against South Africa. A two-time World Cup veteran who started four games in the 2002 tournament, Perez was a last-second addition to the Mexican team this spring. When the players chose their uniform numbers this week, Perez wound up with No. 1 -- the number often reserved for the starting keeper. In Perez's case, though, he may have been given that because he is the team's oldest and most experienced keeper.

"It's not certain," Aguirre said of his World Cup starter in goal. "A lot of things can happen in a week. But tomorrow I want to see a solid team that competes, that can go out a win a game, that has personality, that plays good soccer. And if all that happens. then we would have sufficient reasons to believe that in eight days we would have the same team."

-- Kevin Baxter in Brussels