The Hondurans will have a big point to prove as they head to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. The last time they reached the world youth finals, much was expected of the catrachos, but their tour at Netherlands 2005 ended in heartbreak. Three straight heavy defeats saw them go home early with zero goals in the scored column and 15 conceded. With a third-place finish in the CONCACAF zone this time out, the Hondurans will be hoping to put that sad legacy to rights.
The young Hondurans began their account at the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship with a 2-2 draw against a battling El Salvador. Another draw followed, 0-0 against the fancied USA, before they righted the ship and assured a place in the semi-finals (and Egypt 2009) with a 4-0 thumping of Jamaica in their final group stage game. Finishing second in the section behind the Americans, Honduras met up with Costa Rica in their semi-final, stretching them all the way until finally being eliminated in a penalty shoot-out. They put the disappointment behind them in the match for third place, a late Reinieri Mayorquin goal sealing a 2-1 win over hosts Trinidad and Tobago for a place on the podium.
Emilio Umanzor is one of the most respected tacticians in Honduras, so much so that the country's FA has placed him in control of both the U-17 and U-20 national teams. Effectively guiding the future of Honduran football, Umanzor made his biggest coaching splash at club level with local side Real Juventud. After winning both the Apertura and Clausura in 2008/9, his strong hand guided the previously unfashionable club into the country's top flight.
Honduras, one of the premier producers of talent in the Central American sub-region, has a number of hot prospects. One of the best in Umanzor's squad is striker Roger Rojas, who scored four goals in six qualifiers. The Olimpia player is a constant threat in attack, possessing speed and a quick fire turn that keeps opposition defenders off balance. He links up well with a sensational midfield that includes the likes of Mario Roberto Martinez, Wilmer and Angel Gabriel.
What they said...
"I am extremely proud of my team and what they accomplished. Our qualification for Egypt was merited by our strong play in the qualifiers and we will now build from there and continue to make sacrifices to do well in Egypt," Honduras coach Emilio Umanzor.