TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- Luis Suarez announced midweek his list of 23 players that will comprise the Honduran national team for the upcoming FIFA match dates in October, representing the last two dates of the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
The Colombian retained the core of the team that has been working together this cycle, but also offered several surprises in a selection that could prove crucial to Honduran hopes of reaching a second consecutive World Cup.
Suarez chose 15 players from the Honduran league and eight overseas-based players.Olimpia, current leader of the national tournament, provides five players, while Victoria and Marathon will send three each.
The list also includes elements that have become fundamental of late in La Hache, such as Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza and New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson.
With his list determined, the coach also used the press conference to repeat his assurances that the Bicolor will advance to its second straight Hexagonal.
"I'm always looking at the positive, that is why I am confident that things will work out," he said."My obligation is to ask you to have confidence in these people, who are Honduran and no different from the rest of their countrymen."
Although the team has an extensive number of national team veterans, there were also several surprises among those summoned by Suarez.The coach called back striker Carlo Costly, who had been sidelined much of this year before signing with a club team in Greece.
Suarez also summoned young striker Mitchel Brown of Marathon, noting that he has been among the top scorers in the Apertura 2012.
"I think Roger Rojas and Brown are the players who are participating and are scoring goals in the local environment, and I gave them a chance they deserve," Suarez told the Honduran Football Federation website
Another surprise came with the omission of Wilson Palacios, a regular in the Honduran national team going back several years.Palacios has struggled to find his rhythm in the face of a lack of opportunity at his current club, England's Stoke City.
"It is painful to leave out someone like Palacios, he is a good player," said Suarez."But he hasn't had the level of competition, he's not in rhythm and at his position there are others in good shape."
Of those non-regulars who were called, the most notable figures to be Victoria's 17-year-old striker Junior Lacayo.
"I love his game," said Suarez."We could be looking at the next great Honduran striker.
"If we all know how to manage it, he could bring great joy to Honduras. He is bold, fast and technical, and has great qualities."
Honduras plays two matches between October 12-16, visiting Panama and hosting Canada.With Cuba already eliminated from the group, the course of that week will decide which two of the three still in contention advance to the hexagonal.
The Canaleros lead the group with nine points, and could secure their place in the hexagonal with a victory against the Hondurans on the 12th in Panama.Canada and Honduras are tied with seven points, but the Hondurans have a better goal differential, temporarily placing them in second place in Group C.
Oct. 12, 2012 away v Panama; Oct. 16, 2012 home v Canada
GOALKEEPERS: Noel Valladares (Olimpia), Donis Escober (Olimpia), José Mendoza (Marathón)
DEFENDERS: Johnny Leverón (Motagua), Wilmer Crisanto (Victoria), Osman Chávez (Wisla Krakow/Poland), Arnold Peralta (Vida), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan Athletic/England), Víctor Bernárdez (San Jose Earthquakes/USA), Juan Carlos García (Olimpia), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic/Scotland), José Velásquez (Victoria)
MIDFIELDERS: Edder Delgado (Real España), Boniek García (Houston Dynamo/USA), Mario Martínez (Seattle Sounders/USA), Jorge Claros (Hibernian/Scotland), Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City/USA), Marvin Chávez (San Jose Earthquakes/USA), Luis Garrido (Olimpia), Mario Berríos (Marathón)
FORWARDS: Roger Rojas (Olimpia), Mitchel Brown (Marathón), Júnior Lacayo (Victoria), Georgie Welcome (Motagua), Carlo Costly (Veria FC/Greece), Jerrry Bengtson (New England Revolution/USA)