World Cup preview: Honduras

Football411 brings you a breakdown of the 32 teams at the 2014 World Cup, with the focus here on Honduras.

Serviced by a cosmopolitan squad, lined with a sextet of British-based players, this will be Honduras’ third World Cup.

Warm-up fixtures against Turkey in Washington, Israel in Houston and England will certainly prepare them well for a daunting Group E campaign.

A 4-2-3-1 formation should be commonplace for Los Catrachos, whose current FIFA ranking of 30 is decidedly better than the 95th endured in 1998 – but considerably poorer than 2001’s 20th.

How they qualified

A famous win over Mexico and closing triumph against Jamaica proved the proverbial icing on the cake of an outstanding Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football qualifying campaign.

Third only to the United States and Costa Rica, graduation to the main event in Brazil is entirely deserved.

Star player

Emilio Izaguirre cut his teeth on the international scene in 2007 – and is currently playing for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League.

Light on his feet at a mere 73 kilograms, the 28-year-old’s brickwall-esque defence was particularly evident in early May’s 5-2 trouncing of Aberdeen.

Alongside Brayan Beckeles, Juan Carlos Garcia, Maynor Figueroa, Victor Bernardez, Osman Chavez and Juan Pablo Montes, Izaguirre completes a pretty formidable pack of defenders.

One to watch

The 20-year-old Luis Lopez gained selection for the 23-man squad ahead of a string of other talented goalkeepers.

The Real Espana recruit has gathered a fine string of performances for his club side recently – and is a good bet for the first-choice starting XI before Olimpia pair Noel Valladares and Donis Escober.

“This domestic league has had good ‘keepers such as Yul Arzu, John Bodden, Jose Mendoza. Luis has enormous potential and soon will replace Valladares,” said manager Luis Fernando Suarez.

The manager

Suarez is a veritable South American journeyman, having played for Colombia, coached Ecuador, managed in Peru and – now – leading Honduras.

His most successful stint was surely with the Ecuadorians, which was highlighted by a proud finish in the final 16 of the 2006 World Cup.

Suarez will be aided by the influential presence of former Argentina international Jorge Valdano, who will travel to Brazil to advise and motivate the team.

Prediction

The predictability of the Swiss and characteristic overconfidence from the French will present a gap, albeit small, for the Hondurans to exploit.

This, too, will be the second successive time they’ve been grouped with South African contemporaries Ecuador.

While success in all three fixtures is unlikely, one rare upset might be enough to keep Suarez’s team away from the foot of the group.

post by Funsho Fagbure