Carlo Costly is one of the star performers in the Honduras side gunning for glory at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The striker, who runs out for Polish league side Belchatow and is one of the few foreign-based players in Reinaldo Rueda's young Catracho team, has so far proved equal to the goalscoring responsibilities placed on his shoulders.
Costly has scored twice on Honduras' march to the semi-finals, where they will face off with USA on Thursday. And with just hours to go before the match, the amiable goalgetter spoke to FIFA.com about his side's chances.
Although Honduras went down 2-0 to the tournament hosts in the group phase, the in-form front man is upbeat about their chances of advancing to the final.
"We're relaxed about it," he says. "We know we're up against a very tough side but we expect to beat them. We learned a lot from that defeat in the group match. They stick to their gameplan, they don't make many mistakes and when they make chances they tend to put them away. I think the best way to beat them is to score early and then make things hard for them. We know what their weak point is and we hope to exploit it."
Going into the competition the Central Americans were something of an unknown quantity. Denied the services of his biggest stars, Reinaldo Rueda put together a side made up of players from the domestic league, leading to a good deal of criticism from the national press. Thankfully for Rueda, his makeshift outfit has responded to the challenge.
The most important job is still ahead of us though, and that's reaching the final and winning it.
"We might be missing star players like David Suazo, Julio de Leon and Amado Guevara but we're a young, ambitious side and we want to go far and win the Gold Cup," vows Costly. "Obviously there's a huge difference in terms of experience with the usual team but we're a very determined side and that is our strength."
Listening to Costly talk, it seems he has no doubts about the potential of the team, an impression he is more than happy to confirm. "We played a friendly against Panama and that was when we set ourselves this goal. We haven't come here to make up the numbers obviously, and we were hurt when people said we didn't have any star players in the side. I think that was what helped us get the best out of ourselves and change the way people looked at us."
Shouldering the burden
As the striker is well aware, this is a unique opportunity for Honduras to live up to their billing as Gold Cup heavyweights, something they have not always done in the past. "We'd gone four years without reaching the semis but we've made it," says a grateful Costly. "The most important job is still ahead of us though, and that's reaching the final and winning it. All the hard work we've put in will be for nothing if we don't go on and lift the cup now."
Given the unstable political situation back home, Costly and his team-mates are also acutely aware that their responsibilities extend beyond the football pitch, increasing their determination to succeed and bring a little joy to the Honduran people. "Obviously that's made us focus even harder on what we want to achieve," he comments. "We've all spoken about it and we've all promised to do our very best to help the country with its problems. We know we can help people forget their problems and work together to sort the situation out. That's why we'll be giving it everything on the pitch."
On a personal note, Costly has an uncertain few weeks ahead of him, regardless of what happens between now and the end of the tournament. The subject of intense transfer speculation over the summer, the front man is still waiting on a move and is understandably anxious to find out where he might be playing next season. "I don't know what's going to happen," he admits. "There was a lot of talk about all these transfer deals, about going to Mexico, but everything just fell through. I've got a year left on my contract in Poland and when I get back there I'll take a look at my options. The European transfer window is still open and hopefully I'll find something."
Provided Costly continues to be as forthright off the pitch as he is on it, he should have little difficulty in finding a new employer.