Honduras picked up their first-ever win in their third-ever FIFA U-17 World Cup with a 2-1 result over hosts UAE at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The home team were forced to play with ten men for the majority of the game, but they very nearly hung on for a point before Los Catrachos delivered the knockout blow.
UAE looked fresh in the early exchanges, but Honduras soon began to stamp themselves on the contest. The Central Americans did their hopes of an historic victory no harm after 20 minutes when Fredy Medina slammed home from the edge of the penalty area after a good bit of approach work from Alberth Elis and Reembradt Flores.
Things got worse for the hosts shortly after that. Al Shamsi Sultan’s tough challenge on Kevin Alvarez was judged to be worthy of a red card by the referee and, suddenly, UAE were forced to play with ten men. However, rather than demoralise the side, it seemed to act as a spur and Khaled Khalfan grabbed an equaliser in the 33rd minute. He collected a fine cross from Suhail Al Noobi, rounded the Honduras goalkeeper and slid the ball home into the open goal to make it 1-1 at the interval.
The second-half lacked much of a spark, but the home side had the momentum for the first 20 minutes. They were clearly not content to sit back and protect their point. Even with ten men, they went forward at every opportunity. The Hondurans tried to take advantage of their numerical superiority in the last 20 minutes, going close in the 78th minute through the lively Medina and forcing a series of dangerous corner-kicks.
The hosts were under heavy pressure during the final minutes and just when it looked like they would hang on for a crucial point, their dreams were dashed. In the 86th minute, Brayan Velasquez hammered home with his right foot from outside the box as the home team’s defenders struggled with understandable fatigue. The silence in the stadium no doubt reflected the disappointment of an entire nation, who were hoping for big things from their team.
Next up for the Emirates is what promises to be a tough clash with a Brazilian side that punished New Zealand 6-1 in their opener. Honduras will hope to keep up the form when they face the Kiwis, who will be desperate to erase the memory of their opening-day nightmare.