Quietly spoken off the pitch but explosive on it, Mario Martinez and Reinieri Mayorquin are the only two members of Honduras's Egypt 2009 squad to play their club football outside the country. FIFA.com spoke to the Norway-based duo and got the full story on their Scandinavian adventure and their hopes for the tournament.
For the last few days Martinez and team captain Mayorquin have been spending a fair amount of their spare time between training sessions, team talks and meals enjoying the views of the Mediterranean from their Alexandria hotel.
The duo can be excused for soaking up the late summer vistas and warm temperatures. After all, for the last few months they have been exposed to the chills of Scandinavia, having both decamped to the Norwegian league in March, Mario teaming up with Valerenga and Reinieri with top-flight rivals Aalesunds.
"It's tough living so far away from home and we're on the telephone every day," Mayorquin told FIFA.com. "It was our decision to leave the country and try to further our careers, though, so we just have to put our sadness to one side and focus on our work. We are learning so much every day, starting with a culture that is totally different to ours," he continues. "It's so important for us to learn our trades as professional footballers."
Thanks to their status as the only exiles in the side, Martinez and Mayorquin have become cornerstones of Emilio Umanzor's squad, despite having made only a handful of appearances in the Norwegian league.
"It goes without saying that we'd love to play more, but we are also aware that we left home to gain experience and grow," says Martinez. "We need to keep our feet on the ground, be patient and wait for our turn."
The FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009 is the perfect stage, then, for the two expats to show what they can do. Both played a major part in Honduras's march to the finals. Martinez scored one of the goals in a 4-0 defeat of Jamaica that clinched Los Catrachos a place in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Championship. And it was in the match for third place against Trinidad and Tobago that his sidekick Mayorquin scored an 89th-minute winner in a 2-1 victory.
Having made it to the finals, Honduras now face Hungary in their Group F opener at the Alexandria Stadium on Sunday, a vital encounter for which they have been preparing hard.
"We've watched a few videos but the most important thing is the way we play," explains Mayorquin. "If we maintain our concentration, keep mistakes to a minimum and give our very best, then the three points could be ours," adds his midfield partner, reinforcing the point.
The midfield twosome have built up a fine understanding on and off the pitch. So much so that when Mayorquin explains that his aim is to lead Honduras as far as possible, Martinez cuts in with effortless timing, "All the way to the world title of course".
Their ability to develop their partnership on the field of play will go a long way to deciding what the next few days hold for Honduras.