Eriksson involved in Mexico row

Mexico coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, already under fire due to his team's poor performances, is facing further criticism over the number of foreign-born players in his squad.

Eriksson, who takes on his native Sweden on 28 January in Mexico's first friendly of the year, has included four naturalised players for the game, upsetting even members of his own squad.

Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was among those who said that Eriksson was denying native Mexicans the chance to play for their country.

"It's a very delicate situation, there are a lot of Mexicans waiting for a chance in the national team and this makes it more and more difficult for them," he told reporters.

"It's obvious that the Mexican player should have better opportunities, so I think the matter of the naturalised players needs more analysis."

"I don't think I'd like to see 11 naturalised players in the national team."

The Sweden match is a warm-up for the final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers which starts in February. Mexico have the toughest possible start in the six-team group with a visit to arch-rivals the United States.

Eriksson's team stuttered through the semi-final stage last year, qualifying only on goal difference from Jamaica and finishing behind Honduras in their group.

Eriksson's selection problems have mounted recently, with most European-based Mexican players being left on the substitutes' bench by their clubs.

The squad for the Sweden match includes Brazilian-born Antonio Naelson and Leandro Augusto in midfield and Argentines Lucas Ayala in midfield and Matias Vuoso in attack.

Ayala, a hard-working midfielder, has been included for the first time and his presence has caused the greatest controversy.

"Lucas Ayala is a player who has tried hard and he deserves to be called up," Raul Arias, coach of first division club Necaxa, told sports daily Ovaciones.

"But I believe that there are at least two Mexican players in his position who are better.

"The blame does not lie with Eriksson but with the people who allow him to do this and do not make him appreciate the situation."

Media commentators have echoed Arias's sentiments.

Ayala has been in Mexico since he was 13 and denied he was using the country as a flag of convenience.

"I arrived in Monterrey in 1995, I've played for a number of teams in the second division, I spent 18 months with Tigres UANL and now I'm here with Atlas," he said.

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