Honduras’s return to the FIFA World Cup™ stage in South Africa would have to be termed a disappointment. Having pipped Costa Rica to third place in CONCACAF qualifying with an impressive win over regional powers Mexico, much was expected back home in the Central American nation, torn by political strife in recent times, only for one point and an early exit to send spirits crashing.
“After losing our first two games here in South Africa it was always going to be a big challenge for us to recover,” the team's biggest star, Wilson Palacios of Tottenham Hotspur, told FIFA.com after a 0-0 draw with Switzerland in blustery Bloemfontein. The result brought Los Catrachos their only point of this tournament and, according to the industrious midfielder, a reason for some pride.
“We were able to get our spirit right for this third game,” Palacios said of earning a creditable stalemate with the Alpine nation, who beat Spain so promisingly in their Group H opener only to see it all go wrong and head for home along with the Hondurans at the first hurdle. “It wasn’t easy as we were a bit down, and if you take that into consideration you would have to say that the draw was a good result in the end,” Palacios went on, feeling the sting of his side failing to register a single goal at South Africa 2010.
This sophomore adventure in the FIFA World Cup was a far cry from their debut finals appearance in 1982. Those 28 years ago in Spain they shocked the hosts with a 1-1 draw and then repeated the result against Northern Ireland, before bowing out with a slim 1-0 defeat by Yugoslavia. But even though results did not go their way on the African continent, the Hondurans never looked totally out of their depth up against some of the world’s top-ranked teams. In their opener against Chile, the Central Americans put in a real fight of it and were only undone by an opportunistic Jean Beausejour strike shortly after the half-hour mark. Against Spain, the wheels came off a bit in a 2-0 loss that could have been much, much worse for the hopefuls in blue and white, as the age in the team seemed to show.
The likes of veteran striker and all-time top scorer in the country, Carlos Pavon, roving creator Amada Guevara and European success story David Suazo have all likely seen their first and last FIFA World Cup. “After those first two results, and all that happened, we definitely deserved at least this one point in the tournament,” Palacios continued in a frank chat with FIFA.com. “This is only our second World Cup as a nation, so we have to accept that we are in a process of development. You don’t become champions overnight.
"It hurts; of course, it’s a painful thing to go home without having had a chance to show the world your best,” continued the 25-year-old, who led a team of hard-running if unpredictable journeyman through qualifying, before firing a warning for the future: “We must leave now, but our time here in South Africa, back at the World Cup, has left us hungry for more."