Honduras’ involvement in the FIFA U-17 World Cup has been a relatively recent one. After watching the first 20 years of the tournament from afar, Los Catrachos graced the event for the first time at Korea Republic 2007. And while the Central Americans lost all three of their games there, it left them determined to try again. At Nigeria 2009 they again bowed out after the group phase but, after missing out on Mexico 2011, Honduras went all the way to the quarter-finals at UAE 2013, where they lost 2-1 to Switzerland.
As hosts of the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, Honduras could not have hoped for a better start. In their opening three fixtures in Group A, they overcame Jamaica (2-0) and Trinidad and Tobago (2-0) and drew with Cuba (1-1). They followed that with a 2-2 draw against USA before rounding off the phase with a 2-1 defeat of Guatemala. That victory over their neighbours not only guaranteed Honduras top spot in their section and a berth at Chile 2017, but also a place in the regional decider against Mexico, who would emerge 3-0 winners.
One of the keys to the side’s sustained success in recent years has undoubtedly been their coach, Jose Valladares. After taking the U-17 helm in late 2011, he led the side to a last-eight finish in the UAE, and his aim is to continue in the same vein at Chile 2015. “We have to work harder every day as we need to improve in every area. Football is not just about running. We’re fortunate enough to have now qualified for back-to-back World Cups, and we enjoyed the previous edition,” the coach said.