Team Profile: Honduras
- Coach: Reinaldo Rueda
- Goalkeepers: Ricardo Canales (Motagua), Donis Escober (Olimpia), Noel Valladares (Olimpia)
- Defenders: Victor Bernardez (Anderlecht/Belgium), Osman Chavez (Platense), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan,/England), Oscar Garcia (Olimpia), Emilio Izaguirre (Motagua), Sergio Mendoza (Motagua), Johnny Palacios (Olimpia), Mauricio Sabillon (Hangzhou Lucheng/China)
- Midfielders: Edgard Alvarez (Bari/Italy), Julio Cesar de Leon (Torino/Italy), Roger Espinoza (Kansas City/United States), Amado Guevara (Motagua), Ramon Nunez (Olimpia), Wilson Palacios (Tottenham/England), Hendry Thomas (Wigan/England), Danilo Turcios (Olimpia)
- Forwards: Walter Martinez (Marathon), Carlos Pavon (Real Espana), David Suazo (Genoa/Italy), Georgie Welcome (Motagua)
Style of play: Coach Reinaldo Rueda usually employs a traditional 4-4-2 formation, but sometimes he will switch things up and go with a 4-4-1-1 setup, using the smaller and faster Walter Martinez in a withdrawn role behind the frontman, either David Suazo or Carlos Pavon. Honduras plays with a flat-back four defence, although the two fullbacks are encouraged to make attacking forays down the wings - look for Emilio Izaguirre to make dangerous runs down the left flank. In the midfield, former Toronto FC star Amado Guevara serves as the chief playmaker, abetted by the more physical Wilson Palacio, who combines his strength and elegance on the ball to create scoring chances for the forwards.
1st round matches:
- June 16 vs. Chile in Nelspruit
- June 21 vs. Spain in Johannesburg
- June 25 vs. Switzerland in Bloemfontein
Projected starting lineup (4-4-2): (GK) Noel Valladares - (D) Maynor Figueroa, Osman Chavez, Emilio Izaguirre, Mauricio Sabillon - (M) Wilson Palacios, Amado Guevara, Danilo Turcios, Julio Cesar de Leon - (F) David Suazo, Carlos Pavon
- Team unity: Boasting the likes of Wilson Palacios, this is the most talented generation of Honduran players in the national team's history. What's more, they have great team spirit, which they demonstrated during the qualifiers even when their country was beset with tense political strife.
- Coaching: Colombian-born Reinaldo Rueda is an astute tactician and manager. He's also a great motivator who tends to get the very best out of his players. Rueda took over a struggling Honduras side in 2007 and guided the country to its first World Cup qualification in 28 years.
- Strength and speed: These are the twin pillars about which Rueda bases him game plan. His players will be up to the challenge, especially speedsters such as David Suazo, and physical and powerful players, Wilson Palacios foremost among them.
- The back line: Starting goalkeeper Noel Valladares is inconsistent and error-prone, while the central defensive pairing of Maynor Figueroa and Osman Chavez lack experience. Honduras will have a hard time containing opposing attackers the calibre of Spain's Fernando Torres and Mark Gonzalez of Chile.
- Lack of experience: Honduras last qualified for the World Cup in 1982, which means South Africa will be the first major international tournament for the majority of the players.
- Tough group: Honduras starts its World Cup campaign with a challenging game against Chile, and follows that up with an encounter against European champion Spain. The Hondurans could be eliminated before they even play their final match against Switzerland.
Players to watch:
- Amado Guevara - The former Toronto FC star's speed, dribbling ability, vision and creativity in midfield - along with his free kick expertise - make him one of the most dangerous and entertaining players to watch.
- Wilson Palacios - Honduras's best player, the Tottenham star is a midfield general who controls the middle of the field with his strength and exemplary control of the ball. Also noted for making lung-busting runs from deep positions.
- David Suazo - This speedy forward enjoys hanging off the last defender, waiting to capitalize on a mistake. And though many defenders might insist some of his goals are offside, Suazo is a cunning forward who knows exactly when to pounce.
Key injuries/squad omissions: Forward David Suazo was named to the team even though he has struggled to recover from a muscle injury in his right leg. Georgie Welcome was called up to replace injured forward Carlo Costly (fractured right foot) in the roster. Forward Jerry Bengtson, the top scorer in the Honduran league, and defender Roger Rojas were overlooked by coach Reinaldo Rueda. Other players who did not make the cut were goalkeeper Kevin Hernandez, midfielder Mariano Acevedo, strikers Jerry Palacios and Melvin Valladares, and defenders Johnny Leveron and Erick Norales.
Prognosis: First-round exit. If Honduras were in another group, they would stand a much better chance of making it through to the second round. But Los Catrachos will be hard pressed to advance from Group H, especially with their first two games of the tournament against Chile (coming off a very successful qualifying campaign) and Spain (the reigning European champion). It could be that the Hondurans are eliminated before they play their last game against Switzerland, which means they'll likely be battling it out for third place.
ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
- Current FIFA ranking: #40
- Qualification route: Honduras defeated Puerto Rico in a two-game playoff in the second round of CONCACAF qualifying. The Hondurans then finished first in Group 2 of the semifinal round, and third in the final group stage of the CONCACAF qualifiers (16 points) ahead of Costa Rica.
- Key to qualification: Offence. Honduras's attack-minded approach paid off huge dividends in the qualifiers, as they racked up an incredible 32 goals. And the scoring was spread out among the forwards, as Carlos Pavon, Carlos Costly and David Suazo combined for 17 goals.
- Crucial result: A 1-0 road win against El Salvador (Oct. 10, 2009 in San Salvador) on the final day of the CONCACAF qualifiers secured third place for the Hondurans, and allowed them to scoop up the final automatic World Cup berth ahead of Costa Rica.
- Qualifying record: 18 games played, 10 wins, 2 draws, 6 losses
- Goals for: 32
- Goals against: 18
- Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Carlos Pavon (7)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
- June 4, 2008 - Honduras 4, Puerto Rico 0
- June 14, 2008 - Puerto Rico 2, Honduras 2
- Aug. 20, 2008 - Mexico 2, Honduras 1
- Sept. 6, 2008 - Canada 1, Honduras 2
- Sept. 10, 2008 - Honduras 2, Jamaica 0
- Oct. 11, 2008 - Honduras 3, Canada 1
- Oct. 15, 2008 - Jamaica 1, Honduras 0
- Nov. 19, 2008 - Honduras 1, Mexico 0
- Feb. 11, 2009 - Costa Rica 2, Honduras 0
- March 28, 2009 - Trinidad and Tobago 1, Honduras 1
- April 1, 2009 - Honduras 3, Mexico 1
- June 6, 2009 - United States 2, Honduras 1
- June 10, 2009 - Honduras 1, El Salvador 0
- Aug. 12, 2008 - Honduras 4, Costa Rica 0
- Sept. 5, 2009 - Honduras 4, Trinidad and Tobago 1
- Sept. 9, 2009 - Mexico 1, Honduras 0
- Oct. 10, 2009 - Honduras 2, United States 3
- Oct. 14, 2009 - El Salvador 0, Honduras 1
- Number of World Cup appearances: 1
- All-time record: 3 games played, 0 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss
- Goals for: 2
- Goals against: 3
- Biggest defeat: 1-0 vs. Yugoslavia in 1982
- Overall top scorers: Hector Zelaya and Antonio Laing (1 goal)
- Most appearances: Several players (3 matches)
- Hosted the World Cup: Never
World Cup track record
- 1930 - Did not participate
- 1934 to 1978 - Did not qualify
- 1982 - First Round
- 1986 to 2006 - Did not qualify
- FIFA member since: 1946
- Team nickname: Los Catrachos
- All-time caps leader: Amado Guevara (133)
- All-time leading scorer: Carlos Pavon (57)
- CONCACAF Championship: 1981
- UNCAF Nations Cup Champions: 1993, 1995
- CONCACAF Under-20 Champions: 1995, 200
- Gilberto Yearwood: Regarded as one his country's all-time great players, Yearwood was a member of the Honduran team that played at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Yearwood was the only player who earned a living outside of Honduras - the defensive midfielder played for Spanish side Real Valladolid at the time of the World Cup.
- Hector Zelaya: A key member of the 1982 team, Zelaya made history when he scored the first goal in World Cup history for Honduras in a 1-1 tie against hosts Spain.