Rueda Deserves Credit for Honduran Qualification
Honduras secured Qualification to its first World Cup since 1982, in a roundabout dramatic fashion. The Honduran team which is chock full of international players who in the weak CONCACAF region are considered superstars, beat rival El Salvador away while the US got a stoppage time equalizer versus Costa Rica to advance as the final regional qualifier on goal difference.
The win in El Salvador, the first for any away team in San Salvador during the Hex, owes itself to Reinaldo Reuda’s ability to pick up his side after the unfortunate and devastating loss to the USA at home on Saturday. In that match, Carlos Pavon missed a late PK and sitter that would have equalized.
For many years, Honduras has been a sleeping giant in the region. A good combination of athletic players, pace and creativity led analysts like myself to dub the Hondurans the next big thing in CONCACAF. Recently, the nation began exporting the likes of Maynor Figeroua, David Suazo, and Wilson Palacios to top teams in Europe.
Yet, the Hondurans seemed to underachieve. But in this cycle, Rueda, the man who never was appreciated in his native Colombia for saving the national team from even greater embarrassment than it faced in 2004 and 2005, is now a national hero in politically unstable Honduras.
Rueda’s tactical setup did leave the Hondurans exposed at the back for much of the qualifying cycle but took advantage of the tremendous athleticism and quality going forward he had. The Hondurans do not hold the ball as well as others in CONCACAF, but have more athletic and technically gifted wide and attacking players.
Rueda deserves a great deal of credit for Honduras’ qualification. Now the question is whether Honduras will provide CONCACAF, a boost in the next World Cup. The region’s teams minus Mexico have won only four games in the last three World Cups. At the same time, those teams, the USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Trinidad have lost 15 games.
Honduras has the type of team that can buck this ominous trend.