Martino: 'Not easy' for Mexico to join world's elite

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Mexico head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino is hoping to shape El Tri into a side that can become one of the world's elite national teams, but admits it's a tough challenge that few have accomplished.

Mexico won the Gold Cup in July and will face Argentina and the United States in September in friendly games, before the CONCACAF Nations League begins in October.

"Mexico is one of the prominent nationals teams on the second level [of world football]," said Martino on Tuesday in a news conference in San Antonio, where El Tri plays Argentina on Sept. 10.

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"The first first level is made up national teams that have been important for 100 years.

"It's not easy to reach that level.

"The only national team that I've seen step up to that level is Spain. It was always Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Italy; I wouldn't even put a national team like England in there. We can probably put France in there now.

"It's a long journey to get there and it obviously isn't easy, but we're on the same mission that [former coach Juan Carlos] Osorio was on when he was in charge of the national team."

Martino said he'd use the game against Argentina to continue to refine the team's playing style "against a world power," but once again won't be including LAFC forward and possible MLS MVP Carlos Vela in the September squad.

"Vela we've talked about, he's on the outside of the national team through his own decision, that's not changed," said Martino.

Giovani dos Santos does have a chance to return to the national team, according to Martino, but the Club America player's recent injury record and fitness will be considered before a final decision is made.

Former Argentina coach Martino added that he is likely to name close to 30 players for the games against the U.S. and Argentina.

Ticket sales for the match against Argentina -- who won't have suspended Lionel Messi -- are "approaching 50,000," according to game organizers, and the Europe-based players are expected to be called up.