Umanzor reads the riot act
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The corridors of the Alexandria Stadium are still reverberating even now. Unhappy at his side's 1-0 defeat to United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, Honduras coach Emilio Umanzor locked his side in the dressing room after the final whistle and issued them with a stern telling-off.

Having reminded his youngsters of their duties in no uncertain terms, Umanzor recovered his composure, at least outwardly, to give his views on the defeat to FIFA.com.

"I'm just sorry that my players put in a first half like that," he says. "Mentally they didn't show up at all. They reacted well after the break but by then it was too late. Those first 45 minutes just killed us."

That false start was in marked contrast to his side's superb 3-0 defeat of Hungary only three days earlier, a performance that had prompted Umanzor to warn his charges against the dangers of getting carried away. "We need to keep our feet on the ground now, which is not always easy to do after a result like that," he said in the wake of last Sunday's emphatic win.

One of the architects of that sparkling victory was attacking midfielder Mario Martinez, who was unable to repeat his heroics against the UAE. Though his star man was completely nullified by the Asian champions' astute tactics, Umanzor refuses to use that as an excuse for his team's poor showing in Alexandria.

"Mario Martinez is just one member of the team. The UAE defence did a good job of stopping him but that shouldn't have been enough to knock us off our stride."

The day before the game we had to have a meeting in the middle of the night because some of my players had been behaving unacceptably.
Emilio Umanzor, Honduras coach.

So why the sudden change in fortunes? The former Real Juventud coach offers an explanation for that conundrum.

"I'm not making the slightest excuse but our preparations have been a bit problematic. The day before the game we had to have a meeting in the middle of the night because some of my players had been behaving unacceptably. It was something I couldn't let go. The players were punished and I set the team straight on a few things."

The ticking-off failed to concentrate Honduran minds, however, and when Reinieri Mayorquin was dismissed for an injury-time altercation with Ahmed Ali, who also received his marching orders, it seemed to underline the tension in the Honduran camp.

Currently second in Group F with three points, Honduras must now avoid defeat against South Africa in their final match on Saturday if they are to progress to the next round.

It is an objective Umanzor will need to make clear to his players as they build themselves up for the showdown at Port Said Stadium. And though disappointed by their midweek capitulation, he is confident they can react in time.

"We're going to be playing a final against South Africa," he explains. "That's something my players need to get into their heads because the winner goes into the last 16 and the loser goes home. And let me tell you, I'm expecting my team to show a lot of pride."