El Salvador (pictured) celebrates after scoring against visiting Honduras in a World Cup qualifier on March 25, 2016, in San Salvador. (Photo: FIFA.com)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Riding the emotions of rallying for a 2-2 draw against visiting Honduras (0W-1D-2L, 1 point) last week, El Salvador (0-2-0, 2) is confident ahead of the sides’ second meeting in five days, when they square off Tuesday in San Pedro Sula.
The fourth in a series of six fourth-round CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup is key, especially since Mexico (3-0-0, 9) can secure one of Group A’s two final-round berths with a win over Canada (1-1-1, 4).
“I will not stop on the way to Honduras,” said El Salvador head coach Ramon Maradiaga, a former Honduras star, who played in the 1982 FIFA World Cup. “I will do my job and look to go to win.”
Twice on Friday, the Salvadorans rallied from a one-goal deficit to equalize. The first came from Pablo Punyed in first-half stoppage time, holding off Maynor Figueroa in the box and then firing off a left-footed shot.
“They are games there to be played,” Maradiaga commented. “I saw a capable team with the ball, setting up barriers, looking at breaking through on the right side.
“I liked Punyed’s drive, running behind the two center midfielders.”
With matches against first-place Mexico (home) and second-place Canada (away) still to be played, Maradiaga knows that reaching the final qualifying round – after missing out four years ago – remains a real possibility.
“There are 400 kilometers to three points and we’re seeking to go get them,” he finished. “We are calm. We are attentive.”
El Salvador is eager to win for the first time since overcoming Curacao, 1-0, in a third-round qualifier on September 8, a stretch of eight games that includes four draws.