Double Headers are Honduras’ ticket to World Cup - Café with Mario
Saturday, October 17, 2009

Double Headers are Honduras’ ticket to World Cup

After 28 years since their first and only World Cup appearance the Honduran national soccer team has been intent on reliving the glory of Spain 1982 when they were given a seemingly endless standing ovation during their last game, a loss, for their skill and determination that came so close to buoying them into the second round. Despite the severe political crisis that has divided the country in recent months, citizens from all sides are united in their passionate pursuit for a ticket to South Africa 2010.

On October 10th playing against the USA at the Estadio Olímpico in San Pedro Sula with a 10-0 home record all preparations for a home town celebration were in place. But their fiesta was dashed in an action-packed 5-goal second half game with a 3-2 defeat in which Honduran seasoned striker Carlos Pavón missed an equalizing penalty at the 86th minute which would have preserved Honduras’ control over their own destiny. Costa Rica, under leadership of new Brazilian coach René Simoes and with a resounding 4-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, had now jumped to third and the last automatic birth to South Africa in the CONCACAF grouping, demoting Honduras to fourth which offered a last chance home-and-away play-off series against the 5th placed CONMEBOL group team for which FIFA 6th Ranked, 14 of 19 World Cup qualifier, and 2-time World Cup Champion Argentina was a grave contender. Honduras’ qualification now would be determined on the final playoff date of October 14th and had only two favorable scenarios: either a Costa Rican tie against the USA at RFK Memorial Stadium, Washington, DC together with an away-win by Honduras against El Salvador at San Salvador’s Estadio Cuscatlán, or a loss by Costa Rica together with a tie by Honduras.

The final CONCACAF playoff matches started at relatively the same time and by the 24th minute the Costa Rican team had pretty much secured their spot for South Africa with two goals against the USA by Bryan Ruiz within a 2 minute span. Ten minutes later, in San Salvador, Honduras’ Columbian coach Reinaldo Rueda was red-carded and sent off the field in a game in which rival El Salvador was fighting for an honorable good-bye and further sinking Honduran hopes. Then at the 63rd minute Honduran striker Carlos Pavon scored a text-book header off a surgically precise pass from teammate David Suazo (Inter-Milan) to give Honduras a 1-0 lead.

From this moment on, every Honduran viewer shifted their attention to the Costa Rica-USA match back in D.C. – even those in attendance at the Cuscatlán tuned in by radio – as it now depended on the USA come back from a challenging 2-0 deficit and at the very least tie the game. The minutes passed in desperation for all fans of the Honduran team which were given a renewed sense of hope at the 72nd minute when USA coach Bob Bradley’s son, Michael Bradley scored unforgivenly off a rebound of the Costa Rican goalie. The USA seemed relentless on their quest for an equalizing goal to take the Group's top spot away from Mexico, and the frantic ending to the match featured the emotional ejection of Costa Rica head coach Rene Simoes as the game moved into heart-stopping stoppage time.

After more than four and a half minutes of the announced five minutes of stoppage time gone the Costa Rican fans had begun savoring their World Cup berth. Then with less than 20 seconds remaining in the match Robbie Rogers took a corner kick from the right side and unmarked defender Jonathan Bornstein came from behind and sliced through the pack of players to power a six-yard header into the net to tie the match.

Both games were now over at almost the same instant. The Costa Rican team, knowing that Honduras was last known to be defeating El Salvador, was left stunned on the field while the team USA celebrated. On the other hand, the Honduran team, at the conclusion of their match, was seen standing on the field demoralized despite their victory, knowing that Costa Rica was last known to be defeating the USA.

It wasn’t until word quickly spread that the USA had tied during the last seconds that the Honduran team was shocked into an emotional state of disbelief turned to celebration. Two headers, both “golazos” – one from Honduras, one form the USA – paved the way for Honduras’ return trip to the World Cup. The drama of extended agony instantly switched to exhilarating joy called for extraordinary celebration, enough so that interim Honduran President Micheletti, amidst the political crisis and last minute negotiations, ruled the following day a national holiday to carry-on with the well-earned South Africa 2010 bound festivities. Congratulations Catrachos!  See you in South Africa 2010!


  1. Nice recap of what was 90+ minutes of agony with a surprise ending. I heard Micheletti offered Bornstein an all expense paid retreat on the Bay Islands to show Honduran gratitude for his awesome goal.

  2. See you in South Africa! Best of Luck!


Item Reviewed: Double Headers are Honduras’ ticket to World Cup Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Mario Larach