MIAMI, Florida – This Friday at 7:00 PM ET, Concacaf will be airing a re-broadcast of two Concacaf Gold Cup classics, the first being the Group C finale between Honduras and El Salvador from the 2019 Gold Cup, followed by the 2011 Gold Cup Final between Mexico and the United States. Both matches will be shown on Concacaf’s Facebook and YouTube pages, plus the Concacaf App.
Sometimes in football, an early exit from a tournament can lead to a successful long-term future, and if the results of the past 12 months continue, Honduras can then have plenty to look forward to in the coming years.
A little over a year ago in the 2019 Gold Cup, Honduras exited the tournament following the group stage, but not without a 4-0 win over Central American rivals El Salvador in which FW Rubilio Castillo scored to start an unbeaten streak of seven matches for Catrachos.
“We had nothing to play for in terms of qualifying for the next round, but Coach [Fabian] Coito told us that we still had much to play for. It was important for us to win because the Gold Cup had not gone well for us, but winning the final match was important for us. I think it served to boost our morale and that we could leave with the satisfaction that in that match we did things well,” said Castillo in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“The win was a big boost because since then we have faced good teams like Chile and we haven’t lost, so that is important for what the players want, and for how Coach Coito wants us to play in the national team,” added Castillo.
That unbeaten run also included a sparkling 3W-1D-0L record in League A of the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League against Martinique and Trinidad and Tobago.
“The Nations League was very important. We took it very seriously and Coito instructed us what we had to carry out during that process and we approached it with maturity and thankfully we didn’t lose a single match,” said Castillo.
It has been almost 18 months since Coito took the helm of Honduras and Castillo feels like the fruits of their labor with the Uruguayan manager are starting to show.
“Coito has been instilling his style of play. He has brought in a lot of new, young players. We are very committed to what the coach has helped us understand. He wants us to improve so that our football develops more in a better functioning manner, that we are in top conditions. It is important for us to continue this good streak and it motivates us to continue doing things well,” said Castillo.
On the horizon for Honduras is Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022 in which the Catrachos will be looking to return to football’s biggest stage since Brazil 2014. There is a lot of optimism within the Honduras camp that a third World Cup in four tournaments can be a reality.
“It’s a great opportunity to do things well and once again deliver some joy to the Honduran people. We are very focused on what we are doing, it’s going to be a hard-fought qualifying cycle, so we have to prepare ourselves physically and mentally and be ready to play well in qualifying. Everyone’s dream is to qualify for the World Cup,” said Castillo.
At present, Castillo is playing on-loan at Motagua from Portuguese club Tondela, yet Castillo has a long history with Motagua, having spent four years there from 2014-18.
“It is always makes me so proud to wear the Motagua shirt. It will always be my team. I feel like the association between myself and the club is very prosperous. My hope is to return to Europe soon and have a successful spell there and consolidate my status at Tondela and in European football,” said Castillo.
Castillo had arguably his finest hour in a Motagua shirt during the 2018 Scotiabank Concacaf League when he scored five goals for the club as they reached the Final against Costa Rican side Herediano. It was Castillo’s brace in the final second leg that evened the series 2-2, but in the end a late Herediano goal earned the title for the Ticos. Still, Castillo looks back on that tournament with fondness.
“It’s an important tournament for Central American clubs, they give their all to try to win this tournament. We made the final, it was a spectacular night. The stadium was Motagua blue and white, we were ahead with two goals that I scored but sadly at the very end they scored to make it 2-1. It was painful to lose the final, but from that tournament I left with more positive things than negative things,” said Castillo.
Concacaf play is nothing new to Castillo, who in addition to his SCL exploits, has also played in six Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League matches. For Castillo, there is no greater feeling than taking the field on a Champions League night.
“It is a privilege to play that tournament. The name says it all: that’s where all the champions play so it is a great privilege to play in that tournament. It is always an honor to play in that tournament and represent Honduras. You are motivated to try to reach that tournament by being the champion of your league,” concluded Castillo.