• Monday Jan 28, 2013

    With Copa complete, Honduras looks ahead

    SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - After falling to Costa Rica in the final of the 2013 UNCAF Copa Centroameicana, 1-0, on Sunday, members of the Honduran national team were quick to look ahead. When it comes to the very near future, there's no time to waste and wonder what could have been.

    The Copa Centroamericana has wound to its conclusion, but in just a few days the Catrachos initiate the last segment of the journey that they hope takes them to the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals. On February 6, they host the United States in San Pedro Sula for the first match date of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

    "It's time to look ahead," said Victor Bernardez, who captained the Honduran side in Costa Rica. "We have qualifying, and we have to keep working hard, and try to do things well."

    At the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Honduras' potent attack -- spearheaded by stars such as Jerry Bengtson and Oscar Boniek Garcia -- couldn't find a way to break down the Tico defense. On the occasions when the Catrachos did advance into dangerous areas, they were thwarted time and time again by Patrick Pemberton, the tournament's top goalkeeper and Most Valuable Player.

    "We knew it was going to be a tough match," said Bengtson. "It's the Cup, we're playing in their house. We did what we could, we tried, but we couldn't score."

    Now with seven Central American titles to its credit, Costa Rica has more than doubled the haul of its nearest competitor (Honduras is second with three). In the 2011 final, Honduras overcame the Costa Ricans 2-1 at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. The rivalry between the two sides continues to escalate as the stakes grow larger and will undoubtedly carry over into the CONCACAF Hexagonal. They meet on June 7 in Costa Rica and on October 11 in Honduras.

    "It's a classic, and we didn't want to lose," said forward Roger Rojas. "But qualifying is going to be different, we're going to try to play a good game and we hope we can do it."

    Qualifying for Brazil is obviously the prize at the end of an onerous process. And, not surprisingly, Honduras may have to navigate its way past Costa Rica in order to reach its desired destination.

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