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   June 10, 2002 | 1110 IST


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Mexico must play their best against Italy

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Mexico will have to raise their game against Italy and play their best match of the World Cup if they are to book a place in the last 16, coach Javier Aguirre said.

The Latin American side's perfect start to the tournament -- two wins in two games -- is not enough in group G in which everything is still to be played for.

"Italy are going to be hard, very hard. We will have to play a perfect game. We will have to play our best match of the World Cup if we want to go to the next round," Aguirre said.

After a 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening match, then on Sunday coming back from a goal down to beat Ecuador 2-1, Mexico could not have done any better.

But Italy's 2-1 defeat to Croatia after also beating Ecuador has left the group wide open.

Javier Aguirre "The match against Italy is going to be very tough. Look at those players -- there's (Filippo) Inzaghi, (Alessandro) Del Piero, (Francesco) Totti, (Damiano) Tommasi, (Christian) Vieri..." he said, counting most of the team on his hands.

"And Italy have to win. If they don't, they're out, so they'll be solid. We have to be very clever, very patient, very strong and very confident," he said.


Aguirre, who says he has had his work cut out improving his side's mental approach to the game, believes there will be no room for weak minds against Italy.

"We are still kind of weak up here, so we have to improve on that," he said.

"We came back from a goal down against Ecuador, so we are getting better," Aguirre said.

Mexico, stunned by an Ecuadorian goal just five minutes into the game on Sunday when towering striker Agustin Delgado headed home after a cross from Ulises De la Cruz, kept their cool and fought back with a goal in each half to grab the full three points.

They meet Italy in Oita on June 13, when Ecuador also face Croatia in Yokohama.

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