Tabora, Honduras look to Costa Rica at CU20
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Head coach Carlos Tabora (far right) and his Honduras team stand at attention for the national anthem ahead of a CONCACAF Under-20 Championship match against Panama on February 27, 2017, in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Straffon Images)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – There can be no underestimating the importance of Honduras’ 2-0 win over Panama in the opening match of Group E play at the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship (CU20) classification round on Monday.

The Catrachos netted a pair of brilliant goals off the talented feet of Darixon Vuelto and Jorge Alvarez, submitting an energetic display against a side that entered the match with a perfect 3-0-0 group-stage record.

“We have gone against an opponent that had really good ball circulation,” said Honduras head coach Carlos Tabora after the match. “We maintained our order, which is important.

“Truthfully, we are fatigued, so we will see what the recovery is going to be medically…but the most important thing is to have the three points that gives you hope and chances of qualifying.”

Honduras can qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup and earn a place in the CU20 final Wednesday with a win over host Costa Rica. In four previous CU20 meetings between them, the Hondurans hold a 3-0 advantage in wins.

Regardless of the statistics, with a much at stake, nothing can be taken for granted in this rivalry of regional powers.

“It (the win over Panama) gives us a bit of tranquility, but on Wednesday we face the home team,” Tabora commented. “The match against Costa Rica is a Central American classic and we are going to evaluate them to be able to play a smart match.”

The Costa Ricans fell 1-0 to El Salvador in their Group C opener, but bounced back with narrow wins over Trinidad & Tobago (1-0) and Bermuda (2-1).

Tabora has been impressed by the Ticos’ growth throughout the competition.

“Costa Rica has grown in their play,” he finished. “Without a doubt, in the first match of the group stage, it was hard for them. But they have been coming and getting back their rhythm, their level and the important players are starting to stand out. We will see how we set up to combat their attack.”