Their country may have been in the midst of chaos due to political instability, however that did not keep the members of the Honduras national team from qualifying for only their second ever World Cup finals. In 1982, Honduras performed admirably in the World Cup drawing against Spain and Northern Ireland and losing to Yugoslavia. This time around there are realistic expectations of going one step further and advancing to the knockout rounds of South Africa 2010. Reinaldo Rueda’s side have nothing to lose come June and could prove to be a dangerous proposition in Group H.
TALE OF THE TAPE
FIFA Ranking: 40th
World Cup Appearances: 1 (1982)
World Cup Record (W-D-L): 0-2-1
Best World Cup Finish: Group Stage, 1982
Road To South Africa: Finished 3rd in CONCACAF Final Round Hexagonal
This is a team that has plenty of talent plying their trade in Europe’s top leagues. With experience at the highest level in Europe for a key bunch of players in addition to some promising youngster, there is a good blend of players aiming to shine at the World Cup. This is also a team that is very united as evidenced by their displays in qualifying even though the country was in severe political turmoil. Reinaldo Rueda focused the players on the task and they responded in superb fashion by qualifying for South Africa.
Inexperience could derail this team in South Africa. Besides CONCACAF qualifying, it has been a long time since Honduras faced the pressure that will present at the World Cup. Though there are hopes that the team could get out of Group H, the fact is that it will be a major coup if they do such is the strength of the other teams in the group. Another thing counting against Honduras is the fact that the team are generally poor away from home. 2 wins in 9 matches on the road in qualifying suggests they are much better side when they stay at home.
Reinaldo Rueda is perhaps one of the most well-supported coaches at this World Cup, such is the respect he has from Honduran football fans. The Colombian boss managed to become a national hero after leading his team to their first World Cup in 28 years. The 53-year-old previously coached some Colombian club sides and the Colombian national team before taking the Honduras job. Is widely viewed to be a master tactician and will undoubtedly have his team well prepared come June.
The Key Men
Though he is on in his years now, Carlos Pavon still remains the man for Honduras. Even at 36, Pavon has proven he can still do the business at the top level and his goalscoring record for Honduras (57 goals in 97 matches) is second to none as is the country’s all-time leading scorer. The World Cup could prove to be a fitting finale to a fantastic international career.
This is a group that features some superb midfielders and Wilson Palacios must surely be placed into that category. The Tottenham man will have to be at his tough-tackling, swashbuckling best if Honduras are to make an impression at the World Cup. At 26, Palacios is perhaps at the most perfect point in his career to make a real impact in South Africa and propel his team to the second round.
Though their name won’t strike fears into the other teams in Group H, Honduras have what it takes to do well in South Africa. This is a side capable of fast, skillful football, but they are also a physical team that won’t be pushed around and with some players with genuine European experience this team will not be intimidated even in only their second appearance at the World Cup Finals.
The Key Match
Honduras’ first match is seemingly their most important. The opener against Chile could produce the shock that the Catrachos need in order to make a statement of intent for the next round. The Chileans will also be feeling the same way however and in a match-up of two teams capable of good football, this could be one of the matches of the first round.
Why You Should Watch Them
They might play pretty at times, but don’t let that fool you as this team can handle itself. Youth, experience, talent, and team unity are all ingredients for a team that could turn a few heads in South Africa.
Guest Panelist: Hector The Honduran, Hector blogs about Honduran football at Just-Football.com as well as being the Corinthians blogger at theoffside.com.
Hector told One Game, One World:
“Okay I’m also a realist and I really believe that Honduras can go as far as the 2nd round where their fate my lay in the hands of Brazil, but it wouldn’t be the first time they faced the South American powerhouse. Honduras defeated Brazil 2-0 in the 1999 Copa America and we are hoping that history repeats itself.
Crazy to think that Honduras might make it out of a group consisting of Spain, Chile and Switzerland, huh? Not really. Honduras has shown they can hang with the big boys and usually show up against the bigger names due to the fact that their weakness is usually against much smaller opponents, ironically. If Honduras doesn’t bunker with a 4-5-1 then Honduras has as much chance as anyone in this group to make it out, but again it all depends on what style we play and how we play it.
Rueda is known for bunkering, which means we’re left with 1 forward, either Suazo or Pavon, and that also means that our playmakers , like AS Bari’s Edgar Alvarez, are doomed to defend all game unless we find a counter here and there. I believe if Rueda can attack, then we might be one of the most potent attacking teams in the group. Alvarez is a very fast winger and is known for his Usain Bolt-like speed and can beat players on a 1v1, while Suazo can still score at will when given the chance and is still very much a dangerous forward to have despite his lack of form and recent injury proneness.
Finally, I think if Honduras can come out with their successful 4-4-2 rather than their 4-5-1 then we should be okay and should be able to contend for second spot within the group. With Wilson Palacios and Maynor Figueroa patrolling the Honduran midfield, counter-attacks should be the least of our worries. So again a Honduras 2nd round birth might not be as crazy as once thought, but again it’s the World Cup and anything can happen.”
One Game, One World Final Say
Overlook this team at your own peril, Honduras are a dangerous team that could play a big role in Group H. Advancing to the second round would be a fantastic achievement and represent the high point in Honduras’ football history. Can they do it? It is certainly possible and here at OGOW we really give the team a 50-50 shot even though they have been dismissed by other media outlets. There is some serious quality in this team and with Rueda there is a man on the sidelines who looks capable of handling any situation. Don’t be surprised to see Honduras challenging for second place, though the group is deceptively difficult with overwhelming favorites Spain, promising Chile, and solid Switzerland.
Can the Catrachos pull off the upset and go into the Round of 16? Let us hear what you have to say!