Honduras’ Alberth Elis (middle) in action against the host UAE during their FIFA U-17 World Cup match on October 17, 2013, at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. (Photo: FIFA via AFP)
ABU DHABI, UAE – Just days after the full national team qualified for Brazil 2014, Honduras got its FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign off to a bright start, defeating the host United Arab Emirates 2-1 on Thursday at Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium.
It was the Catrachos’ first-ever points in the competition after seven all-time games.
Fredy Medina gave the Central American side a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute. Alberth Elis sprinted into the box down the left wing and completed a pass to Rembrandt Flores. The 16-year-old squared the ball for Medina to slot home clinically from the edge of the 18-yard box with his right foot.
Six minutes later, the host lost Alshamsi Sultan to a red card after a lunging, two-footed tackle against Kevin Alvarez.
Despite the disadvantage in manpower, the UAE equalized in the 33rd minute with a superbly crafted sequence. From the right, Alakberi Mohamed played a short pass to a centrally positioned Suhail Alnoobi, who delivered a delightful chip into the box. Khaled Khalfan ran onto the ball, touched it around goalkeeper Cristian Hernandez and netted before a sliding Alvarez could clear it off the line.
Just when it appeared that the UAE would hold on for the draw, Honduras’ relentless pressure finally paid off with four minutes remaining in regulation.
The tiring UAE defense had difficulty dealing with a cross into its own box. The ball eventually took a deflection off Ahmed Rashid and fell to Brayan Velasquez. The Olimpia forward kept his composure and fired an effort from 22-yards out beyond the reach of diving goalkeeper Alshamsi Mohamed.
Honduras will look to make it two wins in a row with a Sunday meeting against Slovakia, which lost 6-1 to Brazil earlier in the day.