JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (AP) – The director of Mexico's Gold Cup team says his squad will win the regional tournament, with or without replacements for the five players dropped after testing positive for a banned substance.
Hector Inaturri said Friday that while Mexico would benefit from replacing the suspended players, they really aren't needed.
FIFA approved the request to replace the players and asked CONCACAF, the regional governing body, to implement it.
Mexico is still awaiting a decision from CONCACAF.
''If CONCACAF at some point decides to allow the players, good,'' Inaturri said. ''If not, we have 17 players and we are going to win.''
Mexico, the defending champion, will play Guatemala in the second Gold Cup quarterfinal at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Saturday after Honduras and Costa Rica.
The games are sold out, CONCACAF announced Friday night.
Mexico had goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and defender Francisco Rodriguez, both World Cup veterans, and three other players removed from the team this week after testing positive for clenbuterol, a banned anabolic agent. Ricardo Osorio already had been sent home with an illness.
Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre isn't worrying about when CONCACAF will make a decision on their replacement.
''We will continue working with the players we have and go from there,'' de la Torre said through an interpreter. ''We have to adapt to the circumstances. We have thought about it in case we are allowed to bring the players and see what we can do then. Now we have to focus on what we have at hand.''
Mexico dominated the group stage, winning its three games by a combined score of 14-1 with a talented group of players led by Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez.
The 14 goals were twice as many as any other team scored in the tournament.
De La Torre said his team isn't overconfident, adding it is ready to play with what it has.
''We don't think this will be an easy game,'' he said. ''Our previous matches with Guatemala have been difficult for us.''
Guatemala shocked Mexico with a 3-2 victory in 2007 that derailed El Tri's Olympic bid.
''We know their offense is the best (in the Gold Cup),'' Guatemala goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez said. ''Chicharito has been great. That is something you have to respect. We know they've scored 14 goals in three games. But this is a different game. We know who they are. If we are positioned well, there is no chance for them to harm us.''
The opener of the doubleheader at the $1.6 billion stadium that opened roughly a year ago will pit two longtime rivals in Central America.
Honduras, which finished second to Jamaica in Group B, hopes to have striker Carlo Costly back in the lineup. He injured his ribs in a loss to Jamaica on Monday, but he said in training this week he was feeling better.
Costa Rica was embarrassed 4-1 on Sunday by Mexico. Marco Urena got the Costa Rican goal, the only one allowed by Mexico in three games.