Liga MX leader Pumas comes to the border to face Xolos

Liga MX leader Pumas comes to the border to face Xolos

Things aren’t getting easier for Tijuana interim manager Raul Chabrand.

The 39-year-old took over from Ruben Omar Romano after the Argentine was fired from his post as Tijuana head coach. Chabrand, who led the team’s U-20 side, is yet to guide Xolos to a victory, and instead of a run of easy fixtures it’s Liga MX-leading Pumas coming to the Estadio Caliente.

Pumas have scored more goals than any other team in the league, and forwards Eduardo “Lalo” Herrera, Ismael Sosa and Matias Britos will be licking their chops ahead of Friday night’s contest.

Previous coach Romano favored a five-at-the-back defensive alignment that has largely failed with Xolos giving up more goals in the Apertura than all but one team. Chabrand has tried a different formation but acknowledged the team will have to be compact to keep Pumas from scoring Friday.

And while he agreed the defense has been poor, the interim manager noted that Tijuana needs to put in a better effort in all phases of the match.

“We will have to start from good organization,” Chabrand said. “We need a very compact team. Also I don’t think the defense are the only ones at fault. I think it would be unfair to single out the guys in the back. Just like we don’t blame it only on the forwards when we don’t score goals.

“There has to be a collective game in which both (defensive and offensive) objectives are met.”

Chabrand’s tenure as manager will end when the season is over, and there are multiple reports indicating former Club America and Mexico national team manager Miguel Herrera is in Tijuana to talk about taking the manager job in January.

But that hasn’t changed the dedication the interim is putting into the job ahead of Friday’s clash with the top club.

“I have the most important challenge in my career,” Chabrand said at a news conference. “I’m taking it very seriously and with a lot of responsibility. The foundation of what we are trying to do is to re-take those values [Tijuana sporting director Ignacio Palou] was talking about. This club has had a long and successful history based on those values.”

Tijuana has lost four straight league matches and hasn’t won since a Sept. 11 win against Chivas. Xolos will be looking to snap a nine-match winless run against Pumas, who come in on the back of their first home defeat of the season.

The match will begin at 8:30, an hour later than the usual match time as much of Mexico already has observed daylight saving time.