When the final whistle sounded in Honduras on Wednesday night, both the home side and their bested foes, Mexico, celebrated passage to the final round of qualifying in the North, Central American and Caribbean Zone. However, as section-winners Honduras danced wildly and pumped their fists on the rain soaked pitch, Mexican faces betrayed something more like relief than joy.
Jamaica were the victims as their 3-0 win over Canada just wasn't enough. Their island neighbours, Trinidad and Tobago, took the final spot in the 'hexagonal' with a 3-0 win over Cuba to pip Guatemala at the finish line and go through second in Group 1.
Game of the day
Honduras 1-0 Mexico
Goals: Ricardo Osorio 51 (own goal)
Sven-Goran Eriksson's men needed to avoid defeat and hope that Jamaica didn't run up a cricket score against Canada in Kingston to assure a place in the final round. On a waterlogged pitch in San Pedro Sula, they managed only to lose 1-0, after Ricardo Osorio knocked a cross from captain Amado Guevara into his own net. Jamaica only managed a 3-0 win at their ‘Office,' so Mexico, despite picking up just one point from their last three games, move on. But the Swedish boss, should he manage to keep his job, will need to find a way to get more out of his boys, who lost their composure in the fading minutes and saw Gerardo Torrado and Carlos Vela ejectioned for spiteful fouls.
The other games
The only other meaningful contests came in Group 1. Guatemala needed a win against section winners USA on the road to have a prayer. Their 2-0 loss, with goals coming from Kenny Cooper and Freddy Adu, meant that Trinidad and Tobago - who hammered Cuba 3-0 in Port of Spain -join the Americans in the final round.
In Group 3, everything was squared away before a ball was even kicked. Costa Rica managed to keep alive their sparkling perfect record of six wins from six games when they bested El Salvador 3-1 at the Cuscatlan in San Salvador. Despite the defeat, the Salvadorans are through too as section runners-up. Haiti and Suriname (both out) drew 1-1 in Paramaribo.
Player of the Day
David Suazo (HON)
The current Benfica hit-man (formerly of Inter Milan) returned to his beloved Catracho squad with a bang. Hands-down the best player on the field in San Pedro Sula, the striker carved channels down the right side time and again, almost at will. The one they call the Black Panther rained havoc down on some of Mexico's top stars. Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Carlos Salcido were just a few of Suazo's frequent victims. Though he failed to score, the Panther's lightning pace on a wet night served as the spark for Honduras' famous win.
9 - The number of points picked up by John Barnes' Jamaica in their last three group games. Sadly, their wins over Mexico, Honduras (both 1-0) and their 3-0 hiding of Canada were not enough to see them through to the final round as a slow start proved their undoing. They only secured one point from their first three games, lending credence to those who criticise the Reggae Boyz as inconsistent.
What they said...
"We showed our quality tonight. We proved that Honduras belongs at this level and in the final round. Now I think it's time for the Mexican team to speak well of Honduran football. I think they would be able to talk all week about it," Honduran striker David Suazo, after the Catrachos' win over Mexico.