MEXICO CITY: Veteran defender Rafael Marquez was named Monday to Mexico’s preliminary 28-player squad for the World Cup, despite his advancing years and legal woes in a US drug trafficking investigation.
Marquez, 39, took a nearly three-month break from football after the US Treasury Department accused him last August of being a “front person” for a drug trafficking group based in the Mexican city of Guadalajara.
But coach Juan Carlos Osorio said the former FC Barcelona player, who recently retired from Guadalajara club Atlas, would bring invaluable leadership.
“Off the pitch, there’s no debate, he’s the footballer who can bring the most to this team,” he said.
Marquez, who will be playing in his fifth World Cup, was included in the squad as a midfielder rather than a defender.
Brothers Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos, who both play for the Los Angeles Galaxy, were also named as midfielders.
Osorio’s list includes 12 players from European clubs and three from Major League Soccer in the United States.
He plans to announce his final list of 23 players on June 2, after Mexico’s farewell home match, a friendly with Scotland.
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege/BEL), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul)
Defenders: Carlos Salcedo (Einracht Frankfurt/GER), Nestor Araujo (Santos), Diego Reyes (Porto/POR), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad/ESP), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Oswaldo Alanis (Getafe/ESP), Edson Alvarez (America), Miguel Layun (Sevilla/ESP), Jesus Gallardo (Pumas)
Midfielders: Jesus Molina (Monterrey), Rafael Marquez (Atlas), Hector Herrera (Porto/POR), Jonathan dos Santos (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA), Andres Guardado (Betis/ESP), Erick Gutierrez (Pachuca), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Giovani dos Santos (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA)
Forwards: Javier Hernandez (West Ham/ENG), Raul Jimenez (Benfica/POR), Oribe Peralta (America), Jesus Manuel Corona (Porto/POR), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Hirving Lozano (PSV/NED), Jurgen Damm (Tigres) -- AFP