Mexico cruise past Suriname to win CONCACAF Nations League opener

Mexico kicked off their 2022-23 CONCACAF Nations League campaign with a 3-0 victory over Suriname on Saturday night with goals from Israel Reyes, Henry Martin and Erick Sanchez.

Featuring an alternate roster in the Group A match from League A of the Nations League -- held at Santos Laguna's Estadio Corona -- El Tri had an opportunity in the third minute. Following a poor defensive clearance from Suriname, Reyes immediately found the back of the net with a left-footed shot.

Later in the first half, winger Diego Lainez provided another chance after being fouled in the 18-yard box. Martin, stepping up to the spot, made it 2-0 for manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino and his men after scoring the ensuing penalty.

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Despite the 2-0 lead, chants of "fuera Tata" (Tata out) emerged from fans minutes before the half time whistle. Following several underwhelming performances in previous matches, and up against a Suriname team on Saturday that was ranked at No. 141 by FIFA, the crowd at the Estadio Corona appeared unsatisfied with Martino's squad that had issues with on-the-pitch chemistry.

Things gradually improved in the second half. Due to substitutions and also perhaps the temperature finally dropping below 90°F/32°C at the Estadio Corona, El Tri were rejuvenated late into the game.

Substitutes like Sanchez, Santiago Gimenez, Orbelin Pineda and Arsenal academy star Marcelo Flores gave Mexico more of a threatening and dynamic edge against Suriname. Although Flores would go on to have a penalty saved in the 84th minute, the 18-year-old did well to create the opportunity through a clever through-ball moments beforehand. In injury time, Sanchez then cemented a 3-0 result for El Tri after his shot sneaked past goalkeeper Warner Hahn.

"We needed to score more goals, that's the truth. Having a little bit better of decisive finishing, but in control [of the match] I think we had a good game," goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo said to TUDN after the final whistle. Martino, who is now just months away from his team taking part in the next World Cup, told TUDN that he isn't ready to make final decisions just yet for his squad in Qatar.

"None of them earn a place through a well-played game today, none of them lose a place through a poorly-played game today," Martino said.

Next up for Mexico in their Nations League campaign is an away match against Jamaica on June 14. Martino and his roster will wrap up the group stage of the tournament with two additional games in March of 2023.

This summer, El Tri will play Paraguay in a friendly on Aug. 31 in Atlanta. The president of the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) has also said that his country's national team will face Mexico in a friendly this September, with a specific date and U.S. venue to be determined.

In the upcoming November start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, El Tri landed in Group C with Argentina, Poland and Saudi Arabia. Suriname remain without a win in their Nations League run. The Caribbean side are at the bottom of Group A after previously earning a draw and loss with Jamaica.