MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico coach Miguel Herrera's goal is nothing less than winning the World Cup.
Most would find that ridiculous.
"When you arrive at the top, you have to keep looking up with the idea of changing everything and winning a World Cup," Herrera said. "It's very difficult, but if you don't go (to a World Cup) with that dream, then why are you going?"
Herrera's enthusiasm has gripped his home country, where he is already a media darling.
Brash, outgoing and not afraid to ruffle feathers, Herrera's career took off after he guided Mexican club America to a 2013 league title. His wild on-the-field celebrations were all over social network sites.
It was that title that propelled Herrera into the national team as Mexico's fourth coach in the World Cup qualifying cycle. He took charge in November after a series of lackluster displays led to a cull of three coaches between Sept. 6 and Oct. 17, as Mexico's participation in Brazil hung on the edge.
Herrera's first significant move was to exclude Mexico's Europe-based players — including Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez and Villarreal forward Giovani Dos Santos — from a two-match playoff against New Zealand.
He justified his decision by saying the travel involved would be too much, and there were enough good players in Mexico.
In their place, 11 players from his former club were called up in Herrera's first squad.
Tactically, Herrera introduced an attacking 5-3-2 system with the wing backs high up the field. It worked with "El Tri" overcoming New Zealand 5-1 in the first leg and 4-2 in the second.
Herrera is confident Mexico can get out of Group A and, while many believe achieving positive results against Croatia and Cameroon will be key to that, he thinks his team can provide a shock against Brazil.
"We spoke with (Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari) and he said, for them, Mexico is like having a stone in its shoe," Herrera said in February. "We're hoping to be like a rock, not a stone."
Such grandiose statements are common-place from the former Mexico international, who hadn't achieved much of note before the title win with America — one of Mexico's biggest clubs. In 2008, Herrera's Veracruz team was relegated from Mexico's first division.
But despite his irregular past, Herrera is a popular, approachable figure in Mexico. And as an avid user of Twitter, where he regularly posts photos and has previously even announced his squads, Herrera is set to be one of the more colorful coaches in Brazil.