HARRISON, N.J. -- Central American powerhouse Honduras is expected by many to not only win Group B of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but also challenge the likes of the United States and Mexico for the championship. Just don’t tell that to its coach.
Honduras head coach Luis Fernando Suarez said on Sunday that he doesn’t see his team as a favorite and that he despises that word as he prepares for a meeting against Haiti at Red Bull Arena on Monday.
“I don’t like that word too much ‘favorite,' " Suarez said. "I do not see it as a good thing for us because it can take attention away from the tournament and what we want to achieve. We know what we are up against in this group and you just have to look at Haiti and see what they have done in their two last preparation games to know they are a threat.
“I think El Salvador has very good technical skills and Trinidad has to be respected as well. We have to prepare and put our strongest team out there and not see ourselves as favorites, but play good football and get to the next round."
The Hondurans will play without some of their experienced players who have not made the trip due to injuries, suspensions and visa issues, but Suarez said he was pleased with his team and will not be looking for excuses.
“I’m not really thinking about what or who I don’t have," he said. "I have to think and plan with what I do have. Things like not acquiring visas and so on in time, we have to look at that and do better in the future."
Former D.C. United player Andy Najar, 20, who is now with Anderlecht (Belgium), said he was happy to be part of the team and was ready to play at a high level.
“I am happy for the opportunity of playing in this Gold Cup," he said. "The Honduran federation has given me the trust to be a member of the team and I will give of my best.”
Najar added that the Gold Cup was a very important tournament as players get the opportunity to showcase their talents to the world, whether it was securing a professional contract or signing with a larger club.
“This is an opportunity for all of us players to show what we can do under the bright lights and in front of the world and also show the skill and quality of players in the CONCACAF region,” he said.