Honduras (white jersey) has competed for two straight FIFA World Cups, but has work to do in order to qualify for Russia 2018. (Photo: AFP Services)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – Despite sitting fifth in the Hexagonal table with one game remaining on its schedule, Honduras (2W-4D-3L, 10 points) is confident of earning a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Catrachos can book a ticket to Russia on Tuesday at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, but three things need to happen.
First, they must win at home against first place visitor Mexico (6-3-0, 21). Then, the third-place United States (3-3-3, 12) and fourth-place Panama (2-4-3, 10) have to lose to last-place host Trinidad & Tobago (1-0-8, 3) and second-place visitor Costa Rica (4-4-1, 16), respectively.
On the heels of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Costa Rica, Honduras head coach Jorge Luis Pinto believes his team is motivated to secure a third consecutive trip to the World Cup.
“The match against Costa Rica gave us confidence,” said the 64-year-old Colombian. “We are going to validate what was done. Against Mexico, we are going to look for the match from the start. We won’t go crazy. We’ll be measured.”
Yet Pinto is all too aware of the threat posed by Mexico, even though it has already clinched first place. In November 2015, the Tricolor earned 2-0 fourth-round victory at Honduras, which was also played in San Pedro Sula.
“You have to know when to attack,” Pinto concluded. “Mexico is not easy. They are fast, gamebreakers, and we have to be very careful. We are going to attack. We will not go crazy. We are going to shore up things and be careful in the back.”
Honduras is riding a six-game winless streak against Mexico, last winning, 2-1, on September 6, 2013, in a World Cup qualifier. Jerry Bengtson (63’) and Carlo Costly (66’) scored in the triumph, but neither are on the roster for Tuesday.