Just a few days ago, all the signs were that Honduras forward David Suazo would miss his country’s 2010 FIFA World Cup™ opener in Group H here in South Africa. But the speedy striker has made a rapid recovery from injury and now has more than an outside chance of lining up against Chile.
Speaking to FIFA, coach Reinaldo Rueda confirmed that La Pantera is still very much part of his plans: "David has taken part in three training sessions with the rest of the team and he’s well on course to make a full recovery," said the Colombian-born supremo.
For his part, Suazo is desperate to make his finals debut, as he told FIFA in an exclusive interview. "It’s my first senior World Cup. I’ve already played in an U-20 tournament, but this is the peak of any player’s career. The atmosphere around the tournament is incredible. Of course it’s not up to me whether I play, but I want to be there."
The Inter Milan attacker, on loan at Genoa during 2009/10, has taken advantage of his time on the sidelines to analyse the Chileans’ strengths and weaknesses. "Our game is built on pace and Chile could cause us problems because they are a very compact and hard-working side. But coach Rueda knows a lot about them and, even though I can’t reveal what he's told us, we're on the right track. It’s going to be an exciting game and the team that handles the situation better will win."
Another of Los Catrachos’ great virtues is their sense of team spirit, something which has come naturally, given the time that the squad has spent together. "During the qualifiers, we only have a few days together but this time we’ve been able to have a month, and that’s important. Everybody in the squad looks out for each other and the atmosphere is excellent," said Suazo.
Taking on the world
"We’re ready," continued the frontman, clearly in bullish mood. "We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. Some of the players, like me, are used to playing on the big stage and we have to help out the others. I think we will play well as a team and this could be a great World Cup for Honduras."
La Pantera also feels his prowess in the penalty area could be crucial against the Chileans: "If we get a good result in this game it could be our launchpad for the rest of the tournament. We know it’s an important game, not because we’re playing Chile, but because this game will set the tone. We know they will be strong opponents, but we will get chances and we need to take them."
Unfortunately for Suazo’s team-mate, Julio Cesar 'Rambo' de Leon, injury may have put paid to him appearing in Wednesday’s encounter. Coach Rueda has said that the attacking midfielder will be subject to a fitness test, but he is rated as doubtful to face the Chileans.
The good news, however, is the return of Tottenham Hotspur’s Wilson Palacios and Suazo is glad to see the midfield dynamo back in contention. "It is great news for us. Wilson brings a lot of vitality to the squad, which is typical of the Premier League and one of the reasons why it is different to other leagues," he said as the interview concluded.
"Above all he is a real battler and he works hard to close down the opposition. On the whole, I think we’ll work well together as a team. I’m sure that you’ll see us spring a few surprises in the tournament."