Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios (white), believes that his team can follow-up on Friday’s history-making win at Mexico in a World Cup qualifier with another victory against visiting Panama on September 10, 2013. (Photo: Mexsport)
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Friday’s victory over at the Estadio Azteca was historic, but triumphant Honduras has left the celebration back in Mexico City and is squarely focused on a critical World Cup qualifier against visiting Panama at the Estadio Tiburcio Carias Andino on Tuesday.
“That win makes us no better than anyone, no less,” midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia told reporters. “We must be humble and work.”
Indeed, the jubilant emotions experienced after rallying to beat Mexico could easily recede Tuesday evening if Honduras doesn’t follow it with another positive result.
“We have to win to validate the victory in Mexico,” expressed midfielder Wilson Palacios prior to training on Sunday.
Honduras currently occupies third place in the final-round table with 10 points from seven matches, two points ahead of fourth-place Mexico and three in front of Panama. The top three finishers automatically qualify for Brazil 2014, while the fourth-place team will face Oceania winner New Zealand in an Intercontinental Playoff.
The Catrachos are undefeated in three Hexagonal matches at home, beating the United States (2-1) and drawing against Mexico (2-2) in San Pedro Sula, as well as defeating Jamaica (2-0) in Tegucigalpa on June 11.
“We played against Jamaica and we did well,” Palacios noted. “Important things come in threes.”
Panama is coming off a 0-0 draw against last-place Jamaica on Friday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez. Head coach Julio Dely Valdes trusts that his team heads to Honduras calm, knowing a win would leave it even on points with its Central American rival.
“We’re fine,” said the 46-year-old. “We’re going to Honduras to play a big game, which is difficult, but we like playing this team. We always keep hope alive because they give everything.”
The 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup runner-up defeated Honduras, 2-0, in their first meeting on March 26 in Panama City with Luis Tejada and Blas Perez scoring in each half.
“Panama will not be easy, but at home we will put forward because we have to win the game,” finished Palacios.