Honduras' Alberth Elis (white jersey) scored four goals in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – For the Honduras, FIFA U-20 World Cup qualification was never going to be straightforward. Maybe that’s why it was so satisfying when it booked a ticket for New Zealand 2015 with a 2-1 victory over Guatemala on Sunday in a CONCACAF Under-20 Championship playoff at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
The Catrachos registered a win, a draw and a loss in their first three outings in Jamaica, before reeling off three consecutive wins.
“I give all the credit to these boys, all the credit for the effort they gave,” said delighted head coach Jorge Jimenez. “It was a difficult match. We knew that Guatemala was very difficult to score against. We had the order and patience to be able to find the way to the goal.”
It wasn’t so much a matter of scoring against Guatemala, a team Honduras defeated narrowly, 1-0, in July’s Central American qualifying tournament. After all, the Hondurans jumped out to 2-0 lead before an hour had passed thanks to goals by the inventive Michael Chirinos and Alberth Elis, an electric forward. The final result, essentially, became an issue of preventing the match from going to extra time.
A dazzling free kick by Diego Alvarez made it 2-1 in the 74th minute and, then, Carlos Estrada’s bid to level with a header in the third minute of stoppage time did not miss the target by much.
“I think this validates the effort of the whole year,” remarked Jimenez. “It validates all of the work of this federation and the youth national teams commission to whom we thank for all of their support and backing.
“Above all this is dedicated to those families and dedicated to all the Hondurans who suffered with us in each match and never stopped believing in this team.”
Honduras will participate in its sixth U-20 World Cup and first 2009.