Mexico legend Luis Hernandez is looking forward to the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and the Arab World, which will start in Qatar on 20 November.
Hernandez, who scored 35 goals in 85 games for Mexico, appeared in two editions of the tournament with the North American nation and famously scored four goals in France 1998.
Here, the FIFA World Cup Ambassador previews the tournament and looks forward to a celebration of the beautiful game.
You took part in two world championships, in 1998 and 2002. What are your fondest memories of these tournaments?
They’ve both been incredible for my career. France ’98 had a big impact on me as it was the first time Mexico had reached the knockout stages of the tournament in Europe. It was also personal as I scored four goals and the fans love me for it.
Korea Republic and Japan hosted the first World Cup in Asia in 2002. Qatar set to host the second World Cup in Asia – how special will this be for the Middle East and the Arab world?
The 2002 World Cup met all expectations and was a great experience for me. I have no doubt Qatar will be the same this year. All the infrastructure is in place and a great job has been done on all fronts, from the new stadiums to promoting the tournament. Many people have played an important role in running this World Cup.
Qatar will host the most compact edition of the World Cup in modern history, with all stadiums and training sites in close proximity. How will the players and fans benefit?
It will be great for players as they will have the opportunity to properly rest and recover between games. This is physically important for them. It’s also great for the tournament as everyone is always in the middle of the action. Fans will always be close to a stadium, their accommodation or entertainment. It will be an unforgettable experience for everyone.
Qatar will make their World Cup debut in November. How do you rate your chances?
Qatar has the potential to surprise some people. They will have home support and everyone behind them. It would be fun to see Qatar do well in this tournament.
Mexico will be in Qatar in 2022 for the 17th time at a World Cup. What are your expectations of the team?
We have to go step by step. Try to win the first match and then go from there. It is important not to think too far ahead, but to concentrate on the task at hand.
That has to be the mentality of the Mexican players going into this World Cup.
The great thing for Mexico is our incredible support. Many thousands will travel to Qatar. It promises to be a wonderful experience.
Which Mexican player will have the biggest impact in Qatar?
I expect Hirving Lozano – “Chucky” – will be a key resource for the team. I’m a big fan of his because he’s very skilled and attacking. He is currently doing well with Napoli in Italy after overcoming a number of challenges in his career. He has flair and style – and I hope he can show his talent at this World Cup.
In addition to Mexico, three other CONCACAF teams have qualified for Qatar 2022 in Canada, Costa Rica and the USA. How do you rate their chances?
I think Canada might surprise a few people if they can keep the momentum they had during qualifying. The USA could also find their way to the next round – but they’re in a challenging group so we’ll have to see what happens.