While Honduras go into the World Cup as somewhat afterthoughts, a 21-year-old wonderkid could prove the key to them causing an upset this summer.
With no star goalscorer up front to rely on, Anderlecht youngster Andy Najar stands out as one of the team’s top attacking options and could provide the creative spark needed to challenge France, Ecuador and Switzerland in Group E.
Despite his relative lack of international experience, the promising winger is held up as one of the big hopes of Honduran football, appearing briefly at the 2012 Olympics and the 2013 Gold Cup, before going on to impress during the latter stages of World Cup qualifying.
With 16 international caps, Najar is already a favourite among fans of La Bicolor and gives the side a much needed injection of pace from either flank. Fully capable of bursting past opposition defenders in the final third, together with fellow wide man Oscar Boniek Garcia, he will prove crucial to Honduras’ defensive gameplan when hitting teams on the counter-attack.
Najar’s natural flair and skill certainly warrants a place in the starting lineup, although manager Luis Fernando Suarez may in fact opt to use the pint-sized midfielder as an impact substitute to take advantage of weary defenders in the second-half of games.
It would nevertheless be another big step in the career of Najar, who had only just turned professional at the time of the last World Cup, having signed with DC United in March 2010, after moving to the USA with his family at the age of 13.
Establishing himself as one of the top young players in the MLS during his three seasons in America, Najar then moved to Belgian club Anderlecht on loan in January 2013, before signing permanently shortly afterwards for a reported $3 million.
His contributions towards the side’s 2013-14 title-winning campaign have duly attracted the interest of bigger European teams such as Tottenham Hotspur, Hull City and Valencia, although a summer move has already been ruled out by Najar’s agent.
However, a solid World Cup campaign would surely change that and garner newfound interest in one of the tournament’s most intriguing young players.