With half an hour remaining, Honduras’s visit to the Azteca Stadium in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers was following the script, with Mexico leading 1-0 and seemingly on course for a routine home win. It was then that second-half Catracho substitute Jerry Bengtson took a hand in proceedings, changing the course of the game.
“I came on in the second half,” said the man himself, taking up the story for the benefit of FIFA. “I made sure I warmed up really well because I know how difficult it is to play at the Azteca. We were trailing 1-0 when I went on, but in the 63rd minute Carlo Costly had a shot, the ball came back out to me and I put it away to bring us level. It was just what we needed and a few minutes later, Costly scored the winner.”
The desire to just get out there and play outweighs any nerves you might feel. I think we’ll be able to handle the occasion without any problem.
Honduras’s surprise comeback victory, which came last September, was made all the more notable by the fact that it was their first-ever away win over El Tri in a World Cup qualifier and only Mexico’s second home defeat in a global finals preliminary, the first coming against Costa Rica in 2001.
H is for hope
Bengston’s strike in that historic win, which put them firmly on course for Brazil 2014, provided a perfect illustration of his knack for scoring important goals and being in the right place in the right time.
The Hondurans have been smiling ever since their Azteca raid, a feat that was followed soon after by their qualification for Brazil 2014. Delighted to be here, the willowy 27-year-old New England Revolution forward said: “We are here to compete and haven’t come to make the numbers up. We are absolutely determined to do a great job. It’s going be difficult but not impossible.”
Admitting to nerves on the eve of Honduras’ tournament opener against France in Porto Alegre on Sunday, Bengtson is intent on helping La H make yet more history.
“You always get a little uptight, but we’ve played in the group phase before,” he explained. “And in any case, the desire to just get out there and play outweighs any nerves you might feel. I think we’ll be able to handle the occasion without any problem.”
Weighing up the task that awaits them against the French, he said: “They’re strong opponents with good players and a great tradition. It’s good to be starting against them. We’re very well prepared for the match and we have faith in God. This squad has got what it takes to achieve big things.”
Focusing only on the here and now, just as he does on the pitch, Bengtson is resisting the temptation to look to what the future might hold beyond Sunday. For now, all that matters is France and the chance to spring another major shock.
“They are going to come up against a combative team, a team that wants to win and is going to battle for the whole 90 minutes,” he vowed. “They’ll see our hunger, our hunger to win.”