The Honduras under-20 national team (pictured) will compete in a Central American under-20 qualifying tournament, July 17-29, 2014, in El Salvador.
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Honduras did not qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, but it does not want to miss the next one in New Zealand. As a result, preparations for the Central American under-20 qualifying tournament – to be played July 17-29 in El Salvador – have been intense and thorough.
This year’s squad, which started training together three months ago, contains nine players from the side that advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
"Having nine players who were at the last U-17 World Cup will be very important to achieve the goal of qualifying for another U-20 World Cup,” Honduras head coach Jorge Jimenez told CONCACAF.com. "To those nine players in the United Arab Emirates, we’ve added Junior Lacayo, who will play this year in the first division of Liga MX with Santos and greatly improved when he was in the Santos under-20 team."
Those World Cup performers mentioned by Jimenez are: goalkeeper Christian Hernandez (Motagua), defenders Kevin Alvarez (Olimpia), Luis Santos (Olimpia), midfielders Rembrandt Flores (Olimpia), Devron Garcia (Victoria), Kevin Lopez (Motagua) and Fredy Medina (Atletico Choloma), plus forwards Jorge Bodden (Valencia CF) and Alberth Elis (Olimpia).
Medina, Bodden and Flores each scored at least one goal at the World Cup.
In addition to utilizing the talents of those with previous World Cup experience, Jimenez has enlisted the services of Honduran football legend Carlos Pavon.
The 40-year-old -- Honduras’ all-time leading scorer with 51 goals in 101 appearances -- will work with the forwards.
"With Pavon Plummer’s presence in the coaching staff, the youngsters will feel confident that they are working with a star and a man who knows his work in the field,” said Jimenez. “Also, he can transmit his experience as a player to them, which is a great help to us.”
Honduras has participated in five U-20 World Cups (1977, 1995, 1999, 2005, 2009), but Pavon did not participate in any despite his long and successful career.
The Catrachos will open the UNCAF tournament on July 17 against Panama at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador. For Jimenez, the first three games are key to securing qualification for the 2014 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, a tournament that will decide the Confederation’s World Cup representatives.
"Winning or not losing in the first three games will ensure that we qualify for the next round,” he stressed. “It is unfortunate that we can only take 18 players to the competition, but we are still confident and everything. We look for the championship"
HONDURAS UNDER-20 NATIONAL TEAM
2014 Central American Under-20 Qualifying Schedule
San Salvador & Santa Tecla, El Salvador