Honduras’ Carlo Costly (white jersey) in action during the 2014 FIFA World Cup against Ecuador on June 20, 2014, in Curitiba, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – With four games remaining on its CONCACAF qualifying schedule for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Honduras knows that the next two are key.
The Catrachos sit fifth in the six-team, final-round table, three points behind the United States for the third and final automatic qualifying berth, and two points ahead of the last-place Trinidad & Tobago.
Coincidentally, the current Central American champion plays both next, visiting T&T on Friday and hosting the U.S. on September 5.
Are a full six points necessary to keep Honduras’ qualifying hopes alive?
“It is an obligation, here in the selection, there is always an obligation,” said head coach Jorge Luis Pinto. “Unfortunately, we have been neglectful in some games. But we hope that everything is corrected from the mental point of view.
“Hopefully, we get the points we need to stay alive and be able to qualify directly to this World Cup.”
A four-game winless streak in CONCACAF Hexagonal play (0W-2D-2L), has left Honduran hopes of booking a ticket to Russia in the balance. The recall of World Cup veteran Carlo Costly, however, is being viewed as a way of rectifying the situation.
The 35-year-old forward, has been key to Olimpia’s run to the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League semifinals, scoring twice in a 3-1 quarterfinal, second-leg win over El Salvador’s Alianza last week.
“He has been raising his football level in his team. That is why he is here,” Pinto remarked. “Hopefully, what he has been doing in his team he’ll do here. He is an experienced man.”
While Pinto wouldn’t say that Costly, who has 13 goals in 30 career WCQ games, will be in the starting in starting line-up, he wasn’t discounting the possibility, finishing: “We’re going to see. The important thing is that we have until Friday to make the decision with peace of mind and not to be mistaken when sending the starting eleven to field of play where we will seek to win the match.”