Having missed the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ through injury, Honduran international Carlos Costly is determined to make amends with a trip to Brazil in two years’ time. The forward is convinced that, under the guidance of their new Colombian coach, Honduras have what it takes to secure a return to the world stage.
The third round of CONCACAF qualifying starts in June, and will see the continent’s heavyweights enter the race for Brazil 2014. Honduras find themselves part of that group, having reached the semi-finals of last year’s Gold Cup and ending a 28-year absence from FIFA World Cup finals by qualifying for South Africa 2010. And, as Costly explained, the Central Americans are keen to live up to their new-found status among the favourites.
“We’re stronger now, and if we don’t make it to Brazil we’ll have no excuses,” he told FIFA.com. The forward, son of former international Anthony Allan Costly, missed Honduras’s South Africa 2010 campaign through injury, but is confident he can emulate his father by representing his country at a world finals.
“I think the [qualifying] group is tougher than it looks,” said Costly, a 2011 MLS runner-up with Houston Dynamo. “Canada are on the up, Panama are an underrated team and Cuba are also seeded. If we play at our best, we should be able to get through. We have what it takes to repeat the performance from our last qualifying campaign.”
Honduras, who qualified automatically for the third round, have undergone several changes in personnel since their group-stage exit from South Africa 2010. Long-time stalwarts Amado Guevara and Danny Turcios have both retired from international football, while former coach Reinaldo Rueda left his role shortly after the tournament.
Two short-term incumbents held the position after Rueda, before Honduras eventually settled on another Colombian, Luis Fernando Suarez, in February 2011. Suarez took over a side that had just been crowned Central American champions for the first time since 1995, and he has sought to continue that momentum, with the likes of Wilson Palacios, Hendry Thomas and commanding defender Emilio Izaguirre all central figures.
Strong in defence and attack
“The essence of the team hasn’t changed much,” explained Costly. “We still have a number of experienced, European-based players. Our playing style has evolved with the new coach. We play 4-4-2 and that’s fine by me – it suits our qualities. As a forward, I’m more comfortable in this system,” added the player, who is full of praise for Rueda’s successor. “Suarez brings his knowledge, and he’s having a real impact on our progress. He’s Colombian, like Rueda, but he has his own vision. He likes high-tempo attacking football, which is a real pleasure for us players.”
Honduras were noted for their rugged, miserly defence in the South Africa 2010 preliminaries, but they have adopted a more forward-thinking style under Suarez. If recent victories over Jamaica (2-1) and Serbia (2-0) are anything to go by, the new approach is already bearing fruit. Los Catrachos face Ecuador on 29 February and Costa Rica on 11 April, giving Suarez another opportunity to fine-tune his side before the serious business of hosting Panama on 8 June.
Costly, for his part, has no intention of letting this opportunity slip. He will celebrate his 33nd birthday at Brazil 2014, should he and Honduras make it that far. And, interestingly, 32 years will have passed since his father stepped out on the turf at the 1982 FIFA World Cup Spain. An omen for Honduran success perchance?