FIFA RANK: 40
There are three things you can take to the bank when you think of International soccer in North and Central America:
1. The US will qualify for the World Cup with few fanfare and little drama.
2. Mexico will qualify with way too much fanfare, and drama that would make a Tele-novela seem normal.
3. Costa Rica will qualify because no one else in CONCACAF is ever good enough to take the region's 3rd spot...until now.
Its been a 28 year wait, but Honduras is finally back on the World's stage and how "Los Catrachos" got to South Africa is nothing short of amazing.
Going into the final day of qualifying, Honduras needed a win over El Salvador and a US win or tie against Costa Rica to advance. They did their part, and the US scored a last second goal to tie Costa Rica, knocking them out of the World Cup and booking Honduras an invitation to the party. It was an unbelievable moment for a country that had seen its own government overthrown that same year.
Now that Honduras is in, they are planning to do damage with what's considered its most talented team in decades. Wilson Palacios and Maynor Figueroa both play in England, and Carlos Pavon, at age 36, continues to be the team's leader and a deadly striker.
Los Catracho's also start a North Texan at midfield. Ramon Nunez was raised in Dallas, played soccer at W. T. White High School, went to college at SMU, and later played for FC Dallas. His family emigrated to the US when he was a baby, and now they will get to see Nunez try to break out this summer.
I got to admit, i'm pretty high on Honduras. I'll even go as far as to name them my first sleeper pick of the cup to make the second round. The group is manageable with the exception of Spain, and as this squad has already proved, they can overcome almost anything. Whether it be a last second goal needed to advance from thousands of miles away or their own government being overthrown.
June 16th VS. Chile - 6:30 a.m. CT (Familiarity with another latin side should help Catrachos with early jitters)
June 21st VS. Spain - 1:30 p.m. CT (Can't expect much from Catrachos here, just try to keep it close)
June 25th VS. Switzerland - 1:30 p.m. CT (Gotta get a win here to probably advance, but I feel Honduras can take Swiss)
NEXT ON THE PITCH: SLOVAKIA