When the draw was made for the qualifying competition in the CONCACAF Zone fans in Mexico, Canada, Jamaica and Honduras realised there was every chances their respective teams could end up battling it out in the same group.
A few months later that is exactly how things have turned out, and judging by their performances in Stage 2 of the lengthy qualification process, the quartet are all genuine aspirants for a place in the final six-team group, where the three direct tickets for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ will be handed out.
The group also represents an interesting clash of styles. Now coached by the Swede Sven Goran Eriksson, Mexico will be banking on the technique and speed of their new generation, headed by the likes of Andres Guardado and Carlos Vela. The explosive power of David Suazo and Julio Cesar Leon should stand Honduras in good stead, while Canada will be basing their game on a tight defence and an effective front line. Last but not least, Jamaica will be bringing their typically physical Caribbean game to the table.
Mexico: With their resources and proud history, the Aztecas are clear favourites to take one of the two berths for the final group. What is more, the Tricolor also have an exciting new breed of youngsters coming through. In combination with battle-hardened campaigners such as Rafael Marquez, Carlos Salcido, Pavel Pardo and Jared Borgetti, these exciting talents ensure the Mexicans start what is a very competitive section as the team to beat.
Honduras: Like the boys in green, the Catrachos have a fine generation of their own. While Suazo and Leon are the ones to watch, Wilson Palacios of Wigan Athletic and the Poland-based Carlo Costly are sure to make their presence felt, and with the noisily enthusiastic crowds of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa behind them, the Hondurans are a match for anyone on home soil.
Canada: The CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finalists will be looking to leading lights Julian de Guzman and Atiba Hutchinson to help them come in from the cold and reach the finals for the first time in 24 years.
Players to watch
Rafael Marquez (MEX), Andres Guardado (MEX), Carlos Vela (MEX), David Suazo (HON), Julio Leon (HON), Julian de Guzman (CAN), Deon Burton (JAM).
Mexico-Honduras: The group opener could set the tone for the entire section. The Hondurans will be anxious to kick off by causing an upset, knowing that even a point will represent a major step forward in their qualification bid. Eriksson, Mexico's new man at the helm, would like nothing better than starting off with three points, however.
A look back
Canada 2-1 Honduras, 14 September 1985
The greatest day in the history of Canadian football. Coached by Bob Lenarduzzi, the Canucks sealed a place in the FIFA World Cup finals for the first and only time to date, downing a team who had been tipped to beat them after surprising the world with their excellent showing at Spain 1982.
8 - The number of points Mexico have dropped at home to their three group rivals in FIFA World Cup qualifiers over the years.
Did you know?
This is the only group in Round Three in the CONCACAF Zone in which all four teams have appeared at the FIFA World Cup finals at least once. Mexico are regulars at the main event, while Honduras appeared at Spain 1982, Canada at Mexico 1986 and Jamaica at France 1998.
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