• Thursday Aug 02, 2012

    Honduras still has Olympic work to do

    By Michael Lewis


    MANCHESTER, England - Having enjoyed the moment of beating Spain for what many consider the biggest upset of the Olympic men's soccer tournament, Honduras now realizes there is something more to achieve.

    Jerry Bengtson's early goal and Honduras' 1-0 win in Newcastle on Sunday earned a lot of attention, but "Los Catrachos" still need a draw against Group D leader Japan on Wednesday to assure itself of advancing to the quarterfinals.

    "We know how big an achievement it is to beat a team like Spain and take three points, but the important thing is not to get complacent because the next match will come around quickly," goalkeeper Jose Mendoza said.

    "We need more points," Bengtson said. "It will be a difficult game again."

    A win or draw by Spain against Morocco also would assure Honduras' advancement, regardless of what result the Central Americans get against Japan, which has victory over Spain and Morocco by identical 1-0 scores.

    "We will make the most of this result against one of the best teams in the world, but we have to stay calm," coach Luis Suarez said. "The next game is certainly very hard."

    Unbeaten themselves with a 2-2 draw against Morocco, Honduras' confidence is running high having eliminated the Spaniards, who three players on its squad that were members of the team that captured Euro 2012 last month.

    "Honduras [is] a competitive team, we're not scared of anyone," defender Wilmer Cristanto said. "We can compete with the best teams and we're not here to make up the numbers."

    Bengtson, who has scored all three of Honduras's goals and share the Olympics' scoring lead, felt the result will add a measure of poise to the side.

    "All of the players put in a really good performance," he said. "It's really important for us to show that we're a strong team. It's given us a lot of confidence but we're going to have to work a lot harder for the next game.

    "I'm grateful to God. In the next game we must score more goals so we don't put ourselves under so much pressure."

    Bengtson scored in the seventh minute and, although Honduras hit the post once more on a header by Roger Espinoza, the Catrachos withstood overwhelming Spanish possession and its three shots off the goal frame.

    "We managed the circumstances well," Suarez said. "We scored early and then, perhaps due to our organization, or perhaps due to Spain's bad luck, things went our way. Spain could have come back to draw and maybe win."

    By the end of the match, the St. James' Park crowd chanted for the Central American side.

    "It's very nice that we heard the crowd supporting us and shouting 'Honduras, Honduras'," Bengston said. "We want to thank them and dedicate this win to them."


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