The fact that Honduras boasted the best defensive record of the six teams contesting the final qualification phase in the CONCACAF Zone had much to do with the form of their first-choice keeper Noel Valladares. Presenting a formidable last line of defence, the seasoned Catracho custodian brought his powers of anticipation and concentration to bear during their successful campaign, proving a reassuring presence for the Honduran rearguard.
Just like his goalkeeping role model, the flamboyant former Mexico gloveman Jorge Campos, Valladares owes his skill with the ball at his feet to his early days as a striker. And although not always the No1 for his club side Olimpia, where he shares goalkeeping duties with Donis Escober, there is no dispute about his status as Honduras’ leading man between the pipes.
A veteran of three FIFA World Cup™ qualifying competitions (Korea/Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010), the 33-year-old former Motagua keeper has more than 70 international caps to his name and also appeared at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Sydney 2000.
That breadth of experience will prove invaluable in South Africa, where his commanding presence between the posts will give Reinaldo Rueda’s side a solid foundation on which to build.