efe-epaPachuca, Mexico

Contending for the Liga MX title will be Pachuca's goal for the Apertura 2018 season, incoming coach Pako Ayestaran said here Monday.

"We must be capable of qualifying (for the playoffs) and battling for the championship, it's an attractive challenge," the 55-year-old Spaniard during his formal presentation as the new man in charge at Mexico's most-decorated club in the last 20 years.

Ayestaran, who formerly coached Liga MX club Santos Laguna, said he was excited about getting the chance to lead Pachuca back to the top of Mexican soccer.

Since 1999, Pachuca has won six domestic titles, five Concacaf trophies, and the Copa Sudamericana, while finishing third in the Club World Cup.

Last season, however, the Tuzos missed the playoffs.

Pachuca will play three pre-season friendlies in the United States to prepare for the Apertura kick-off late next month.

Ayestaran spent 11 years as an assistant to Rafa Benitez at clubs including Valencia and Liverpool before becoming a head coach. He went on to work at clubs in Mexico, Spain, and Israel.