Team Preview – Honduras

Manager: Luis Fernando Suarez is a Colombian who led Ecuador to the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup of 2006. Ecuador lost unluckily to England on the back of a fantastic showing in the group stage in Germany. He took over the Honduran national team in 2011 and oversaw the Honduran Olympic team making it to the quarter finals at London 2012 before steering Honduras to its second successive World Cup qualification, which included an historic 2-1 win over Mexico at the Azteca.

Star player: Jerry Ricardo Bengsten plays with United States professional league side, New England Revolution. Bengsten was crucial in qualifying, netting nine goals including strikes against Mexico in both qualifiers home and away giving Honduras an enormous boost in their qualifying success.

Who to look out for: Other star players include Emilio Izaguirre (Glasgow Celtic), Noel Valladares (Olimpia), the veteran goalkeeper and striker Carlo Costly (Real Espana).

The draw: Group E presents two Latin and two European teams with 1998 World champions France and consistent Switzerland representing the old continent. France will be determined to atone for a disastrous South Africa 2010 and after qualifying through the playoffs, make their thirteenth appearance at the finals, while Switzerland, seeded in Group E following an impressive qualifying campaign; pose a real threat. The Swiss are appearing for the tenth time and are experienced and miserly in defence. Ecuador missed South Africa four years ago after successive appearances in 2002 and 2006. The South Americans qualified at the expense of teams like Paraguay and will want to succeed in Brazil in a tournament relatively close to home soil.

Prediction: First round. Honduras will exit the tournament early with defeat likely against France. The crunch match is against Switzerland in the searing tropical heat of Amazonia in Manaus where the Swiss may struggle. The opportunity to pick up points and perhaps record their long awaited maiden victory against Ecuador in Curitiba is a possibility and must be certain for Honduras to exit the group and find Argentina waiting, should they advance. A brave Honduras will go home early.

FTSAUS Fact: Currently ranked 30th in the world rankings, Honduras are more than a match for their group opponents in Brazil and will need to draw on the spirit of their 1982 forefathers who were minutes away from defeating hosts Spain before a late penalty denied them a maiden victory. Honduras are still waiting three decades later to win their first finals encounter and will expect their clash with Ecuador in Curitiba on June 20 is a perfect chance to get all three points.

Previous World Cup appearance(s): Spain 1982 (1st round), South Africa 2010 (1st round)

Extra time: Honduras are nicknamed ‘Los Catrachos’ and have a fierce rivalry with Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Confederation, however this rivalry pales into insignificance with the hatred between Honduras and El Salvador. After months of diplomatic and military tensions between the nations, a sudden death World Cup qualifying playoff prior to Mexico 1970 led to what is still called ‘the football war’. Following El Salvador winning a third and deciding match in neutral Mexico City, resentment overflowed between the two proud nations. The original two legged affair was played in riot conditions in both San Salvador and Tegucigalpa. Salvadorian forces attacked Honduras and the Honduran military responded, leading to a short, but deadly war that went well beyond football.

How far will Honduras go in the 2014 World Cup?