Now approaching the twilight stage of his career, 35-year-old Honduras forward Carlos Pavon is in an enviable position. The veteran, a key member of Reinaldo Rueda's team, stands on the cusp of his first ever appearance at FIFA World Cup™ and would relish the chance to bring the curtain down on his illustrious career at the very highest level.
However, before El Bicolar set their sights on South Africa, two stiff hurdles remain in the shape of the USA and El Salvador. As the CONCACAF qualifiers go right down to the wire, the striker spoke to FIFA.com about Honduras's hopes of reaching South Africa.
Despite defeat to Mexico on their last outing, Pavon was encouraged by the performance at the ultra-intimidating Azteca Stadium and remains confident his Honduran side can make it to next summer's showpiece in South Africa. "The truth is we played really well," he says. "We set our stall out and forced them to try and break us down. We managed to keep them at bay for almost 80 minutes before eventually losing to a penalty. The Azteca is one of the most difficult venues in the world and I thought we deserved more from the game."
Next up Los Catrachos face another major regional power in leaders USA, with the added pressure of automatic qualification being at stake. "We know them very well," he said of Honduras's next opponents. "It's a team we've played plenty of times before. The public's support will be crucial and I'm confident we can get the win."
Everything to play for
Things could hardly be tighter at the top of the CONCACAF region's final hexagonal round with USA leading the way on 16 points, closely followed by Mexico with 15. Honduras lie third with 13 points while Costa Rica are only one point further adrift on 12. Therefore, a home win against USA combined with defeat for Costa Rica against Trinidad and Tobago would see Los Catrachos claim third spot and a direct berth to the finals.
"The truth is El Salvador did us a big favour by beating Costa Rica in the last game. We weren't expecting that but now it's our turn to take advantage. The next game will be vital, a win and we're just one small step away," Pavon said, eyes glinting with hope and desire.
For the all-time top goalscorer in his country who has played in some of the major leagues around the world, the opportunity to bow out of the beautiful game at its showpiece event is a tremendous incentive. "This is what I dream of. To get the results we need and secure qualification really would be the icing on the cake. Nothing would make me happier," revealed the striker with a smile, fully aware that there is still football to be played before those dreams become a reality.