World Cup 2014: Honduras Preview - Can the will of Palacios and co seal a first WC win?

Honduras Fans

Still seeking a first World Cup victory, Honduras may just have the durability, and the commitment, to be a nuisance in Group E.

The perception

Honduras enjoyed an excellent qualifying campaign, beating usual Central American bigwigs Mexico in Mexico City, and forcing them down into the playoff spot in the CONCACAF section and sealing automatic qualification for themselves.

They have a somewhat deserved reputation as a no-nonsense team that won't shirk their challenges. 

The reality

Despite recent losses to Turkey and Israel bringing the Central American nation back down to earth somewhat, the draw with England confirmed that this may be the strongest, and most resilient Honduras team to ever feature at a World Cup.

They drew with Swtizerland in 2010, and will hope that they can repeat that alongside a long-awaited win to have a chance of emerging from the group.

Strengths

Their game with England on Saturday proved that Honduras are more than prepared to tackle hard, and defend resolutely to achieve their aims. They are a physical, no nonsense group that may well unsettle the slighter players they come up against. Quite how far this can get them, only coach Luis Fernando Suarez will know, but he did guide equally unfancied Ecuador to the last 16 in 2006.

Add in the fact that this is a seasoned squad of players, many of whom have played together for several years, and you have another reason as to why commitment and relentless team work is a feature of this side.

Weaknesses

Honduras lack the quality in possession to really damage the stronger teams. Adding a sprinkling of skilful players that can pick a pass or a beat their man would see their chances of progressing significantly increase. They are particularly short upfront, where despite main man Jerry Bengston scoring plenty in qualifying, he struggled to do the business in the MLS.

La Bicolor don't have tradition on their side either, having failed to register a victory at their two previous World Cups.

Key Player

Former Spurs hard-man Wilson Palacios epitomises the ferocity and willpower of this Honduras side, and comes from a family that has supplied FOUR internationals for the country. Forward Jerry Palacios is the only one along for the ride this time round, and Stoke midfielder Wilson will be setting the snapping-at-the-heels example to every player in blue and white.

Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre is an important player too, functioning as an excellent attacking fullback, and has been linked to a club south of the border on more than one occasion.

One to Watch

Andy Najar has the potential to be one of the best players to ever come out of the country, possessing the pace and skill that the team is crying out for. He won the MLS rookie of the year in 2010 with DC United, before earning a move to Anderlecht with whom he won the Belgian league this year. Still just 21-years-old, he is on the radar of the likes of Tottenham and Valencia, yet is likely to feature from the bench as Suarez goes for a solid eleven to begin with.

Verdict

Very much the underdogs in Group E, Honduras face a daunting match with France to open the tournament. Though the 1998 World Cup winners may be too much for them, they certainly have enough in the squad to take points off Switzerland and Ecuador if they're on their game. 

The big question will be, are they good enough to take the full 3 points from somebody that will make them competitive in qualifying for the next round?

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