Guatemala have yet to grace the FIFA World Cup™ finals despite having featured in qualifying since the run-up to Sweden 1958. The closest they have come was on the road to Germany 2006, when they finished fifth in CONCACAF's fourth and final qualification stage, the Hexagonal. They nearly progressed to this phase again in the battle for a berth at Brazil 2014, only to be knocked out in the third round because Jamaica had a better goal difference.
The Guatemalans have been reinvigorated under their current coaching regime and have begun to gain prominence on the regional stage, claiming a runners-up finish at the 2014 UNCAF Central American Cup. Leaving aside tactical explanations, the secret to their recent success lies in a fine mix of players headed by veteran forward Carlos Ruiz and talented attacking midfielder Marco Pappa.
Born in Argentina, Ivan Sopegno has made his name as a coach in Guatemala, where he also enjoyed success as a player. The former goalkeeper was handed the reins in May 2014 on the strength of his stint at the helm of Comunicaciones, whom he led to five domestic titles between 2010 and 2014.
9 - The number of wins Guatemala racked up in their ultimately fruitless campaign to reach Brazil 2014. This was more than any other team in CONCACAF qualifying except for USA (11), who did go to the showpiece event.
The former stars
Juan Carlos Plata, Oscar Enrique Sanchez, Byron Perez