Wednesday, June 16, 2010 (All times Eastern)
Honduras (0-0-0) vs. Chile (0-0-0), 7:30 a.m.
Nelspruit, South Africa (Sports Network) - Honduras last played in the World Cup 28 years ago and opens the 2010 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday against Chile, another team that is back in the tournament after a long absence.
With Spain the clear favorite in Group H, Honduras and Chile need a win in the opener to have any real hope of advancing to knockout play. Switzerland is the other team in the group, and is also a threat to advance.
Honduras earned two ties in its last World Cup appearance, 1-1 results against Spain and Northern Ireland. Honduras dropped its last game, 1-0 to Yugoslavia, in 1982 and was last in a group that Northern Ireland won with four points.
Reinaldo Rueda's club finished third in CONCACAF qualifying, narrowly avoiding fourth place and a playoff against Uruguay, to secure its return to the event.
Honduras needs Carlos Pavon and David Suazo to produce goals in a tough group, and Rueda can feel confident about the attacking duo.
Pavon has been a regular for Honduras since the mid 1990's and has appeared in nearly 100 games and scored 57 goals.
Suazo has appeared in 50 games for his country and scored 16 times, forming a strong partnership with Pavon that will determine how long Honduras remains in South Africa.
Maynor Figueroa is the anchor of Honduras' defense, while Wilson Palacios will be the main figure in a midfield that also includes veteran Amado Guevara and Julio Leon.
Chile qualified for the first time since 1998, as ex-Argentina manager Marcelo Bielsa transformed the country into a dark horse in South Africa.
Bielsa, nicknamed the "Madman," coached Argentina to the 2002 World Cup and in 2004 led the country to the Olympic gold. Bielsa joined Chile in 2007, and led the team to second place in South American qualifying.
Chile was second to only Brazil in goals scored in South American qualifying, and need to score goals this summer to contend with the world's best.
Real Zaragoza's Humberto Suazo is the most experienced up top with 41 caps and 17 goals, while Udinese's Alexis Sanchez, Bayer Leverkusen's Arturo Vidal and Sporting Lisbon's Matias Fernandez are also strong options in Chile's attack.
Although Bielsa doesn't have a bunch of very experienced international players on his squad, that's not surprising with a team featuring the youngest average age of all the South American World Cup qualifiers.
Regardless of its inexperience, Chile could easily escape the group - where it could play familiar rival Brazil in the first knockout stage. Chile can't look that far ahead, though, because if it doesn't get a result against Honduras it will struggle to survive the group stage.
06/15 13:07:53 ET