Honduras will be making their second trip to the World Cup in their history when they take to the field in South Africa. They qualified for this year’s tournament with an impressive home record, losing only one home game during qualifying to the United States. When the United States pulled off a dramatic last- minute equalizer against Costa Rica in qualifying, it meant that Honduras were headed to South Africa 2010 on goal difference ahead of the unfortunate Costa Rican team.
Coach Reinaldo Rueda’s team arrive at South Africa 2010 with a strong line-up that includes several stars from Europe’s top leagues. One of their key players is Wilson Palacios of Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League. Palacios is the engine inside this Honduran team, where his lung-bursting runs and superb tackling ability push his team-mates forward. Opposition teams will surely target Palacios early on in games in order to try and quell his influence. Palacios plays his soccer with strength and speed, and those two characteristics are found in abundance within the Honduran squad in South Africa.
Wigan Athletic fans have been singing the praises of Hendry Thomas this season as he became one of the standout players in a relatively poor season for the team. Thomas will play for the Honduras in what’s become known as the “Claude Makelele role”. Thomas will be the man tasked with getting the ball from the opposition and then playing short passes to team-mates in midfield from his position in between the midfield and defense. Like Thomas, Maynor Figueroa plays his club football for Wigan Athletic. Figueroa became famous around the world of soccer this season for scoring a goal from his own half directly from a free-kick against Stoke City. Playing as a left-sided midfielder, he will be asked to play a dual defensive and attacking role in South Africa. If given the opportunity, the left-footed powerhouse will punish teams from set pieces anywhere near the penalty area.
The big weakness in this Honduras side will be in the goalkeeping position. If the team are to advance beyond an extremely difficult group stage, they will have to ensure that they allow the opposition very few chances on goal. Noel Valladares is the first choice shot stopper but he has been heavily criticized in his home country for his poor performances in recent games and will have to improve greatly for his team to stand a chance against some very good attacking teams.
Placed in a group that includes Spain and Chile and Switzerland, Honduras could find it difficult to make the second round of this year’s World Cup. But if they can beat Switzerland and draw against Chile, they have a great chance of advancing. It’s between Chile and Honduras for second place in the group. This time around, the Chilean team just about have the edge, but group H is going to be extremely tight and very interesting to watch.
Honduras World Cup Prediction: 3rd place in Group H.
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