Final ESPN piece

Dear readers,

This was my final ESPN piece. It’s a few days old now. I’ve enjoyed writing it. Unfortunately, for the last piece, they edited it quite a lot to make it seem that I have been very critical (they left in the criticisms and took out most of the positives. ESPN want to make the world think that I think Honduras were heavy handed, when in truth, I don’t think they were any more heavy handed than other Latin American teams. My opinion, but feel free to disagree. I will include the link either way, but also include the unedited version. I hope you like it.

Since then, there have been reports that the club owners (of Olimpia and Motagua and Real Espana) who are also president’s of the national team, were having a say on who should be in the national team (so clubs from other parts of the world can see them, and therefore be sold on at high prices). Unfortunately the team didn’t do to well and they’ve had minimal inquiries. There have also been reports of unfair payments to players if they did well, which caused some players to get a bit pissed off.

Now for the piece that I truly did write.

1) Sum up your team’s tournament in one sentence
For all their hope and effort, poor mentality, not enough quality, bad tactical decisions and unfair refereeing decisions have sent Honduras packing.

2) Star Man
Carlo Costly – He scored Honduras’s only goal, their first in 32 years in a world cup. He was unfortunate to miss the last world cup through injury, so this should at least make up for some of that disappointment. He scored some hugely important goals during the CONCACAF qualifying round and he plays with the passion, desire and aggression that Hondurans love to see. At 32 years of age, it’ll be his last world cup, but no one will forget seeing his face with tears rolling his cheeks while running to celebrate his goal.

3) Highlights
Carlo Costly’s goal. It came in the 31st minute against Ecuador, and even though they only held the lead for three minutes before Ecuador’s Enner Valencia equalised, it was fantastic for Hondurans just to celebrate a goal. What a fine goal too, with Costly dispossessing a defender, latching on to the loose ball, shrugging off an opponent and striking it into the bottom left-hand corner, sending the fans wild, however momentarily.

4) Low Points
There were a few low points to say the least, the first being the mentality, a long-term issue rather than a World Cup low-point. Jorge Valdano’s well publicised appointment as team motivator has 0% impact, so it seems. Honduras, who started off with a bit of a footballing identity crisis, went flying in with wild challenges, something we didn’t see in the qualifying rounds (labelled as “violent” in the European media)and made them look a bit desperate. Even though they knocked the ball around quite well in patches, this is the least we expect at a world cup. Some parts of the Honduran media suggest there were conflicts in the camp, especially surrounding the Alan Peralta injury, as well as accusations of Honduran club owners having a say on the line up, so affluent clubs could see their players and try and sell them on.It seems not all was well.

Some of the senior players failed to show up. Emilio Izaguirre, despite doing reasonably well to stop Antonio Valencia in the first half against Ecuador, was the shadow of the man who plays for Celtic. Another was Wilson Palacios, who was foolishly sent off and left his team to play with ten men against France, which he came under severe criticism for (“he’s not played well for years for el bicolor,” supporters claim). Jerry Bengston was another disappointment, guilty of missing two easy opportunities in the Switzerland game. If Carlo Costly decides to retire, La H will be relying on Bengston to come with the goods in the future.

La H has a right to feel aggrieved about the refereeing. They certainly didn’t get rub of the green in this department. In the first game against France, Paul Pogba should have been sent off for petulantly kicking Wilson Palacios. The referee also refused to give a penalty when Varane fouled Costly. The same against Ecuador when Costly was again hauled down, coupled with a disallowed goal for handball, which even the linesman didn’t raise his flag to. Against the Swiss, Jerry Palacios was hauled down, a clear penalty that the referee didn’t give. Conspiracies that referees only help bigger teams polluted the Honduran newspapers. Had they got some of those decisions, Honduras’s world cup could have been a lot more fruitful.

5) Lessons learned
Straight after the Swiss game, coach Luis Suarez stood down, which was expected. How much the team learned is difficult to answer, especially as the coach is moving on. In regards to the team’s quality, we didn’t see La H at their very best. Had Suarez lined the team up in modern formation, making better use of the defensive and attacking midfielders, they might have fared better. In a 4-4-2 formation Suarez played two defensive midfielders in the centre, therefore sacrificing their attacking options.Also, the lack of winning of mentality is the coach’s responsibility, and therefore Suarezcould have done a lot better.

Noel Valladares, Victor Muma Bernardez, Maynor Figuroa and Carlo Costly have surely played their last big tournament. While there is a small batch of young players coming through, with the likes of Boniek Garcia, Marvin Chavez, Andy Najar and Luis Garrido, they’ll struggle to make it to the next world cup. However, watch out for Honduras in eight years. The Under-17 team did very well in their respective world cup last October.

Honduras wasn’t expected to pass the group stage. Catrachos were hoping they’d at least win a game. They played well in patches, but in the end they lost all three matches and proved to be the whipping boys they were expected to be. They scored a goal and showed they can put pressure on teams, but little else, which is a shame for a football loving nation. The fans deserved more, but they have accepted that the players aren’t up to the level. It’s a bitter pill to swallow seeing other CONCACAF teams doing so well, especially with Mexico and Costa Rica being their fiercest rivals. It’s left Hondurans thinking, “What might have been!”


About Nicholas Rogers

I am an English journalist/copywriter living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I have been here since 2011. I originally came to work with Casa Alianza, which supports street kids and vulnerable youths. I then stayed on, after meeting Pamela Cruz Lozano, who calls me her adopted Catracho. I work freelance journalism and I have my own translation business. Why did I come here? For the challenge, to open my mind and get out of my comfort zone. I love literature and I've written a book with street kids. I write novels, short stories and poetry, all of which you will find on this blog, as well as a lot of information about Honduras. View all posts by Nicholas Rogers

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