Defender Victor Bernardez (pictured) believes that unity in the Honduran squad will play an important role in achieving qualification to next year's World Cup finals in Brazil. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- Honduras started its preparations for the last two matchdays of the CONCACAF Hexagonal on September 30 with a small group of players.
As the rest of the squad gathers in San Pedro Sula, head coach Luis Fernandez Suarez will be sure to have them fully focused on a single objective: securing a second straight trip to the World Cup finals.
The Catrachos currently sit third in the final-round table with 11 points and hold destiny in their own hands. Four points out of the remaining six will guarantee them a place in Brazil next year regardless of the results obtained by fourth-place Panama and fifth-place Mexico.
First, though, three points are at stake when Costa Rica visits the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano. It will be the fourth meeting this year in three different competitions between the Central American powerhouses. The Ticos won the first two and Honduras the most recent at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Each encounter was tightly contested, all ending by the same 1-0 score.
“It is going to be a difficult game, they are going to come in here wanting to beat us, but for me, this is a great opportunity to give everything to qualify,” said defender Victor Bernardez.
The initial days of camp were marked by a keen emphasis on physical conditioning. That elevated level of intensity has created a bonding effect on all involved.
“These games are ones nobody wants to lose,” added Bernardez. “We have to play against many things, but there is a united and mature group here.”
In order to cultivate unity, Suarez has been writing messages on the team’s practice shirts and balls to motivate the players and remind them that they are fighting for each other. Bernardez believes it is a nice touch by the Colombian and that it will strengthen everyone’s resolve.
“Over the long course of qualifying that’s taken place, he (Suarez) asks that we have a sense of togetherness and of the many things that are important to achieve our objective,” noted the San Jose Earthquakes star.
Realizing that mission – especially against rival Costa Rica – will be a challenge. For Bernardez and his teammates, however, doing it together makes the journey even more meaningful.