• Tuesday Dec 11, 2012

    Honduras U17s led by Elis and Velasquez

    SAN MIGUEL PETAPA, Guatemala -- After two rounds of the 2012 UNCAF Under-17 Championship, Honduras has established itself as a clear favorite to win the title.

    The Catrachos are the only team to have maintained a perfect record, opening with two straight wins. Apart from that pair of triumphs, the Hondurans have demonstrated a dominance and ease in victory, which suggests that this team is capable of much more, not only at the regional level, but potentially worldwide. Before that, however, the team needs to qualify for and do well at that 2013 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Panama.

    Key to Honduran success has been a constant threat in attack. The Catrachos have scored eight goals in two games, led by Alberth Elis Martinez with four, and Brayan Velasquez, who has scored two.

    Velasquez, who tends to play out wide, has provided a number of assists for Elis, who sticks to the middle of the attack as a speedy target man. The duo's blossoming partnership is surely due in large part to the fact that the players are not only national teamers, but also teammates at the club level with Olimpia, the winningest team in Honduran club football.

    "That's my job, to get the ball and get it to him, so he can score," said Velasquez, who struck twice himself in Honduras' opener against El Salvador, before providing assists on two of Elis's three goals in the following match, a win against Costa Rica on Sunday.

    "He and I, we play on the same team in Honduras, and we know how to play together," added Velasquez.

    In Honduras, the pair of attackers has learned each other's tendencies to perfection in the youth ranks of Olimpia, which signed the promising young starlets at the beginning of 2012. That decision has paid huge dividends for both club and country.

    "There, they call us the 'matadors,' because both of us score," said Velasquez. "But thanks to God we've also been able to score here."

    In fact, with six goals between them, the Honduran dynamic duo has to date outscored all the other teams present at the tournament. The combination of Elis's speed and power, plus Velasquez's skill on the ball and field vision, has been deadly for Honduras' opponents.

    "That's simply the way we play," said Elis. "It's a result of a lot of hard work."

    After providing a pair of memorable outings against its first two rivals, Honduras now is in the driver's seat to lift the UNCAF trophy, but also seems a likely candidate to obtain one of the CONCACAF region's four berths for the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

    However, the coaching staff as well as the "dynamic duo" recognize that the work is far from over, both here in Guatemala as well as on the road to next year's confederation tournament. Honduras can secure a place in Panama with a third consecutive victory, when it returns to the synthetic pitch at Estadio Julio Armando Cobar on Tuesday.

    "Being a favorite is demonstrated on the field," said Elis. "We still have two games left, but God willing we'll go far. The goal is to qualify to the World Cup, and here, to qualify in first place."

    In the opening match on Tuesday, Honduras faces the Nicaraguan U-17s, who tied their in first outing against host Guatemala. The Catrachos close out their participation in the UNCAF U-17 Championship on Thursday afternoon with a meeting against Guatemala.

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