By Vijay Setlur
New Honduran manager Juan De Dios Castillo has one primary goal for his team as it heads to next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2014 World Cup.
"The new way of the national team is to be faster than the last one," he said through an interpreter following a 2-1 friendly loss to Canada.
Under his predecessor, Reinaldo Rueda, "Los Catrachos" reached the semifinals of the Gold Cup and qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1982, using a quick, flank-speed counter-attack driven style.
As it prepares for the biennial Copa Centroamericana in January, Castillo wants to be quicker.
It's Castillo's plan to return Honduras to the World Cup, where in South Africa it lost all three matches in arguably the toughest group with eventual champion Spain, Chile and Switzerland.
Upon his appointment, Castillo, whose contract runs through January, said he wanted to form the greatest Honduran team of all time.
So far in two games since the World Cup, Honduras has beaten arch-rival El Salvador on penalties in the neutral venue of Los Angeles and lost to Canada in Montreal.
"El Cuate's" rebuilding process already has begun, using only five players from the World Cup squad on his 22-man roster for the El Salvador and Canada matches.
Absent were Amado Guevara, Walter Martinez, David Suazo, Julio Cesar de Leon and Ramon Nunez.
"My approach is a little different, to press, touch quickly and be more forward," Castillo said. "I want to see new players for the national team. Amado Guevara and Walter Martinez are players with a lot of games and I want to change for new ones."
Already Castillo's new tack has paid dividends. Twenty-year-old attacking midfielder Roger Rojas, a member of Honduras' U-20 World Cup side in 2009, tallied in his debut against El Salvador, becoming the youngest player to score a goal for the senior side.
Castillo says he has more youngster to see and will bring in others over time.
While much praise and many expectations have been placed on Mexico's "Golden Generation" (Generacion de Oro) - players such as Carlos Vela, Giovani Dos Santos and Hector Moreno who formed the core of its 2005 Under-17 World Cup title team -- Castillo doesn't want to label Honduras' youth similarly.
"When you compare the Mexican young players and the Honduras young players, Honduras is now sending a lot of young players to Europe and I am waiting for the results of the players on those teams to decide whether to bring them to the national team or not," Castillo said.
"We are looking at the competition in Poland and England. New players have gone to Europe in the last month."
Practical reasons also are behind the youth movement.
"We have to see the new players because the next competition, the most important competition, is the (Copa Centroamericana) in the second week of January, and that date is not a FIFA date and the European players like Maynor Figueroa and other players, the clubs don't release them for the competition, so I have to try a new team," Castillo said.
How Honduras fares in the Central American championship will go a long way in determining whether the youth movement sticks and whether Castillo is the one who will lead the squad into June's Gold Cup.