World Cup Preview from The Sports Network|
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
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
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