U-20 World Cup: Honduras Redeems CONCACAF amid Trouble at Home
The first three and a half days of the Under 20 World Cup in Egypt reinforced the perception that CONCACAF is the weakest Confederation that gets automatic entry into the FIFA World Cup. CONCACAF qualifiers, Trinidad & Tobago, USA, and Costa Rica were outscored by a total of 12-1 in their opening group stage matches.
But today, Honduras redeemed the region to a certain degree. Mario Martinez scored two of the best goals you will ever see and Arnold Perlata added a third as the Central Americans overcame Hungary 3-0.
Honduras is suffering from a political crisis at home which threatens all the progress the nation has made in football recently. The political instability of the 1980s coupled with trouble in neighboring El Salvador, destroyed Honduran football. Now, after a pro-longed period of stability, Honduras has been competitive at all levels in CONCACAF, winning the U-23 tournament last year, performing well at the U-20 level and currently sitting in an automatic World Cup qualifying spot in the Hexagonal.
But the current political crisis threatens everything that Honduran football has achieved in recent years. With Honduras performing so well on the international stage, and showing an amazing ability to develop players who can compete at the highest level in European club setups, the crisis could not have come at a worse time.
Honduras needs to reward this Golden Generation that it put the nation back on the football map with a World Cup appearance. But alas, the situation is out of the hands of footballers like the brave Wilson Palacios and David Suazo both of whom had brothers disappear due to kidnappers (Palacios brother was killed, Suazo’s eventually returned) and in the hands of politicians and the military.
It’s a sorry tale of Central American banana republic politics once again derailing football at a critical time. My fear is that this U-20 run for Honduras, could be the nation’s last for some time in a major international tournament unless something positive happens soon politically.
Let’s all hope for the good of the sport and the promotion of the nation, this crisis is solved sooner, rather than later.