Honduras
© AFP

The past
Despite being one of Central America’s traditional powers at senior level and contenders in the CONCACAF zone generally, Honduras have very little to brag about at U-17 level. They qualified for their first junior world finals late, in Korea in 2007, and followed it up with another appearance two years later in Nigeria. Despite playing six games in total, the young Catrachos are still waiting for their first point in the tournament. They missed out on the last finals in Mexico two years ago and are now hoping to make up for past failures with a respectable showing in UAE.

The present
Honduras pulled off a fourth-place finish in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Panama earlier this year, allying their strong physical presence to a sturdy tactical scheme based primarily on lightning-fast counter-attacks. They opened their account in the qualifiers with a 4-1 dismantling of Cuba which was followed by a loss to defending U-17 world champions Mexico, good enough for second in the section and a place in the quarter-finals. They sealed their place in the semi-finals (and the World Cup) with a shock 3-1 win over USA, a side who had never previously failed to a reach the U-17 showpiece, before losing out to Mexico again 3-1.

The future
Coached by Jose Valladares, Honduras will not be among the favourites to cause a stir at UAE 2013, but they might just have enough firepower to upset the formbook and pick up a proud point or two in the Middle East. In Devron Garcia they have a talented midfielder who can burst forward and threaten the opposition goal. “We respect all of our opponents, but we want to make sure we don’t go to UAE with too much respect. We want to win,” Valladares said, sounding a warning to the competition.