Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup: Honduras

We preview the 2010 FIFA World Cup, set for June 11-July 11 in South Africa.

Appearance: Second
Last time there: 1982 (exited in first round)
Best performance: Has never advanced past first round

No matter what happens in South Africa, this is a nice story. Honduras has a strong team, and they knew the window wasn't wide open for them to advance out of the CONCACAF region. There are some older players on this team who might not be available in 2014.

When a U.S. draw against Costa Rica guaranteed Honduras a long-sought spot in the finals, the streets erupted in celebration. It was an awesome scene.

No, Honduras isn't deep, and they aren't the elite squad that Group H mates Spain are. They aren't the surprise entry that Switzerland is, nor the steady bunch you see with Chile. But they are in the group, and they have a chance to prove they belong.

To advance, Honduras needs a huge performance out of midfielder Wilson Palacios, who plays for Tottenham Hotspur of the Barclays Premier League. He played well in qualifying, and he is their best and most important player. His job will be to feed veteran striker Carlos Pavon, who was ten years old the last time Honduras made the World Cup. He's older, but still a dangerous player up front.

Captain Amado Guevara is 34, but he logged a ton of minutes in qualifying, and he is clearly a key player for Honduras.

Defensively, Maylor Figueroa is the most experienced, but look out for Marvin Chavez, who should also be an effective player in front of keeper Noel Valladares.

The group draw isn't as bad as it could have been, but Honduras will need a couple breaks to advance into the knockout phase for the first time ever.

June 16 vs. Chile (Nelspruit)
June 21 vs. Spain (Johannesburg -- Ellis Park)
June 25 vs. Switzerland (Bloemfontein)

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