Honduras have previously qualified for only one Men's Olympic Football Tournament, in Sydney in 2000. Down Under, the Catrachos finished third in their group and went out at the first hurdle despite earning a credible 3-3 draw against Nigeria and a win over the host Australians. Led by current Inter Milan star David Suazo and with an all-out attacking style, the Hondurans earned a great deal of respect at those finals. Despite a comparative lack of experience at the Olympics, the Hondurans are considered a dangerous opponent in CONCACAF at senior level, having famously finished third at the Copa America (South American Cup of Nations) in 2001 and second at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991. They also reached a FIFA World Cup finals in Spain in 1982.
The Honduran U-23 side that qualified for Beijing represents one of the most talented generations in the country's footballing history. Led by the towering figure of Club Olimpia's Hendry Thomas in the centre of defence, the Hondurans shook off a group stage loss to the Americans and went on to beat Guatemala on penalties to book passage to Beijing. Then, as if they had something more to prove, the Catrachos swooped to down fellow qualifiers and hosts the USA in the final and earn the crown of CONCACAF champions. The team is coached by former Colombia international defender Alexis Mendoza, and led by Thomas at the back and a slew of elegant distributors and hard-nose destroyers up through midfield.
With a largely defensive posture, the Hondurans will be hoping to ride their organisation and shape deep into the finals in Beijing. Coach Mendoza summed up the spirit in the camp best after qualifying for the finals: "It is a magnificent thing to qualify for the Olympics and I could not be more proud of my players. They gave everything they had and they earned their place with their hearts and their souls. Now, though, we will need to focus on the next job of showing what we can do against the best in the world."
Facts and figures
David Suazo (2000), Jairo Martinez (2000), Francisco Pavon (2000), Elvis Turcios (2000)
Hendry Thomas (defence), Jefferson Bernardez (midfield), Georgie Welcome (forward)
Honduras built their qualifying run on solid defending. A 2-0 win over a depleted Cuba was the only one of their five games in which they scored more than one goal. They needed penalties in the semi-final and extra-time in the final.
The numbers game
2: The 2008 U-23 CONCACAF Championship crown was the second in Honduras' history, the first coming in 2000 en route to Sydney.