Tag Archives: Honduras

Honduran national team, the weather and derbies

Dear readers,

Some of you might already know, but I’ve been doing some reporting for Fox Sports Australia in the run up to World Cup playoffs between Honduras and the Soccerroos. Going by the name of my blog, there’s no guessing in who I’m following.

I’m enjoyed it and so far, pretty much so good. My first story was a big miss due to a mis intepretation of various nuances from some sections of the media. However, a third story seemed to be a massive hit, which has landed me interviews on television and radio, which I will go into in a future post. I feel quite overwhelmed by the positivity I’ve received, and I’ve learned an awful lot about patriotism and the power of words, as well as how sensitive Hondurans feel about how they are portrayed globally. I already knew about it, but this has been a great reminder and a very good learning experience. I’ve gained a lot of friends so far, such as the Barra Brava Catracha group, who I will write about more in a post coming up soon.

I wrote this post yesterday for Fox, but they decided not to run with it. I have therefore adapted it and publishing it here.



With Eddie Hernandez out the playoffs, Jorge Pinto was left sweating after his first choice goalkeeper Donis Escober and Choco Lozano were taken off during their respective teams, Olimpia and Barcelona B. was taken off with a muscular injury in Olimpia’s derby game with Motagua. However, it seems they will be fit for Honduras’s crunch games against Australia.

In the meantime, Jorge Pinto has left fans and media guessing about his select 11, adding that he has a plan for Australia.

The press and social media were surprised by the omission of Ronny Martinez and Rubilio Castillo, and the call up of some lesser known players from Honduras’s provincial teams like Juticalpa. Los Catrachos will be buoyed by the return of Carlo Costly and Mario Martinez, but how the latter fits into a team already boasting a range of talent in defensive midfield remains to be seen. The one surprise omission which has brought little news is Roger Espinoza, also known as El Chino, a utility midfield man with Sporting Kansas City in the MLS, who won the English FA Cup with Wigan Athletic in 2013. The Honduran born, US citizen has been a fans favourite over the years, scoring a few golazos along the way. Pinto obviously sees enough talent in the squad to leave him out.


What did my home city Birmingham and my adopted city Tegucigalpa have in common this weekend? Derby games! Both cities boast fiery rivalies in the city, with Birmingjam and Aston Villa and Olimpia and Motagua respectively. Yet this weekend, both derbies ended in 0-0 draws. Yes, the bragging rights mean everything to the fans in both cities, and both clubs want to claim the throne of el papá de ciudad. That’s where the similarities end though. Both Tegucigalpa’s teams are fighting to take top spot in the league, while Birmingham are locked in a relegation dog fight in the 2nd tier in the English leagues, while Villa, which now stars ex-England man John Terry, are in a rat race to return to the Premier League.

Back to the Tegucigalpa derby, both Olimpia and Motagua represent two of the country’s most powerful clubs, in which anything is possible.

Drama surrounds this fixture, and this weekend will be no different, giving supporters some reprieve of thinking about the play off with the Soccerroos. Just last season an Olimpia supporter invaded the pitch, collected the ball, dazzled two or three Motagua defenders before putting it away, while at the same time, Olimpia team took advantage of Motagua’s confusion and also scored, all of it taking place in injury time. Surprisingly, the goal stood and game finished 2-2. Click here to see the video.

While Olimpia could be labelled the Manchester United of Honduras, playing in very similar colours and being by far the most successful club, yet Motagua have won the previous two titles and currently sit four points clear at the top of the league, while Olimpia are 3rd.

The club’s supporters were mocking each other on the sport’s radio show La Potra Hn on Friday night, who called me while on air to talk about an article I’d written, about Olimpia beating Santos of Costa Rica penalties to claim  the Torneo Liga Concacaf the night before, with Motagua supporters were raining on their counterpart’s parade, claiming the victory was only region’s 2nd tier cup, the Europa League of Central America.


Talking of rain, Tropical Storm Selma entered Honduran territory on the Pacific Coast on Saturday evening, bringing torrential rain to the south side of the country. Honduras has already experienced heavy rainfall throughout the country, with has brought flash floods, landslides, overflowing rivers and reservoirs, one of which left a dam on high alert. It’s brought considerable damage to some poorer neighbourhoods in and around the northern towns and cities, claiming a number of lives.

That being said, emergency services have been quick to react and civilians have been helping one another. Australian fans coming over will be kept well away from the more precarious areas and the game shouldn’t be affected; just remember to bring your waterproofs.





10 Favourite Books – part 13 – Honourable Mentions

Dear readers,

Roman Tales by Alberto Moravia


Now, like other books, I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this one before. I found this book with a pile of others being compiled by my mother, stacked neatly in a box in my old brother’s room, ready to go to a charity shop. The book caught my eye because of the orange cover and at publishers were using these vintage marketing schemes to sell their books at the time. This was i 2010, if I remember right, before I came to Honduras. I skimmed through and read the synopsis and I had that gut feeling that this was a fantastic book.

I wasn’t wrong.

I didn’t know much about Alberto Moravia at the time but I did my research and bought a few of his books, one of which was Two Women which I accidentally left on a plane and annoys me to this day. I still haven’t read his book The Comformist, which is said to be his best work, but this book, meerly out of forgetting how great it is, was just knocked out my 10 favourite books. It is an anthology of short stories set in Rome in the 1940s and 50s if I remember right. All short stories have a poignant message for me, but these send you on different waves of thinking that had me contemplating for weeks I remember, but also inspired me to do the same. They contain intense emotions and mysterious and sly characters, who make conforming people do non-comforming in some shape or form. It may seem like normal plots to normal short stories, but he has a flow to his writing, written with a jesty seriousness makes you wonder if Moravia is mocking your way of thinking.

Later in life Alberto Moravia wrote quite a few perverted books – i.e. porn – some of which I have read but not sure if I enjoyed. It is very hard to get hold of his other books here in Honduras (his Kindle books are strangely hugely overpriced – shame on you Amazon), so if I can find a volunteer to send me some of his work, second hand books maybe, it would be massively appreciated (not the porn though).

I don’t know if it is still open, but there is a cafe/bar (due to a tragic incident that I will comment on in a future post) in Tegucigalpa named Cafe Paradiso which I’ve written about before, and it’s also a place that my parents really like. They have/had a cocktail named after Moravia, which gave me a whole new affinity with the cafe and in my first couple of years in Tegus, I could easily let a couple of hours pass by with a random book and said cocktail in hand. It is/was a nice cafe bar in its own right, but for me personally, it’s very own romantic Moravia tale (and also where I took Pam on many of our first dates).


Dear readers,

To the older generation and people of the Hispanic world, you might have to excuse my ignorance, because before I came to Honduras, I had no idea who Cantinflas was. To those still not in the know, he was a famous Mexican actor whose career stretched from the 1930s to the 1980s, and is something of a “Charlie Chaplin” type character. A little before my time, I should remind people, but I am surprised that I hadn’t come across him before since a lot of the Spanish I have picked up comes from watching movies. I am quite a big fan of the Hispanic film industry.

The first time I came across him was about two years ago. It’s something of a Cruz-Lozano tradition to pass Sundays at Pamela’s grandmother’s place, Mama Mina, in Barrio Kennedy. I remember one early evening, Pamela was sleeping and the family were speaking in Caliche, so I would disappear off to chat with Papa Milo in the kitchen, who always enjoys sitting by himself minding his territory around the house, kind of like a cross between the BFG and a lion (a strange hybrid, but you just go with me here) or watching classic movies. This particular afternoon he was watching a classic movie, and upon the screen was a man with a strange mustache (it’s shaved in the middle) dressed as a priest speaking in a strong Mexican committing funny blasphemies. He was Catholic, himself, and fierce working class conservative, but I do wonder how it went down in 1960s Mexico). He then told me a bit about him. Pamela’s father Juan Jose joined us and was on the floor laughing. I didn’t understand much but I was giggling at his unique behaviour, which is a kind of innocently anti-social yet friendly demeanor (as stated before, a lot like Charlie Chaplin). Pam’s father told me that he was well-known for speaking up for the poor and downtrodden, protesting for better wages and working conditions for Mexican actors, although paradoxically, his characters were often seen as a a bourgeois puppet to laugh at the poor, as well as changing gender roles.

It must be said that Cantinflas is his character name. His real name was Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreno Reyes and he was born in a poor and dangerous neighbourhood in Mexico City. His sharp-wit got him out of various precarious situations. He started by acting in tents and small shows, where his Cantinflas character was born. He grew with experience and stardom beckoned, with many-a-dozen Mexican movies and then Hollywood, where he won an award for his role in Around the World in 80 Days. He met the love of his life before he was famous and remained with her until she died in 1966, though he gained a reputation for not being the most faithful man on the planet. Latin men, bah! Saying that, I don’t want to sound UKIP’ish, but their reputation goes before them.


Today I saw the biographical movie, which charts his life from his early days of amateur entertainment up to the moment of the height of his success. He is played by Oscar Jaenada, a Catalan Romani actor, who plays such a difficult part to such distinction, he deserves a great deal of recognition. I was thoroughly impressed. An inspiring film about being a free spirit and letting your talent take you as far as you can manage, suffering highs and lows as anyone would in a precarious career, and just going for it. It’s also inspired me to grow a similar tash. I wonder what my bosses at work would say? I don’t think they’d be as amused as watching the movie. That’s a given.

I hope it comes out in the UK. I was moved. Loved it. It’s been a while since I’ve said that about a movie.

Below is the trailer.


Dear readers,

By the time many of you read this, it will be 2nd October, which is my mother’s birthday. I obviously miss being with her on her birthday, leaving me with a bit of a lump in my throat when I think the last time that I was with her on her birthday was 2010 – four years ago. We all have to go in our life directions, and if you asked me ten years ago that I would have moved to Honduras, I most definitely would have chuckled, while thinking, “Where’s Honduras?” My mum tells me not to worry about it and she understands that I’m following my but, but it’s kind of futile (but chasing my dream, mind): I really want to be with her on her 66th birthday. It’s a great mum, the best in fact. I just want to let her know that I’m thinking of her. I only wish that f–king Amazon had told me early that the present that I have ordered for her wasn’t due to be dispatched on 15th October, just two days before her birthday!! I really do need to find a better website to buy things from online: it’s ironic that this tax-dodging monster of a business calls itself Amazon when they have no bleeding care for the rainforest (apart from inventing the Kindle). I don’t want to start an Amazon rant, so I’m just going to finish with a little note to my mum, love you loads, and have a lovely break next week x


Mum really liked Andy Palacio’s music when she came to Central American, the late Garifuna music maestro from Belize. We went to his village and met some relatives of his. Enjoy the music.

I Think of You

Dear readers,

Here’s a quick poem for Pamela.

    I think of you

I think of you,
My future wife,
Your naked arms embracing me,
With a smile,
Calming nerves,
Setting me free.

In private,
Or a room full of people,
I always feel your love.
Hand in hand,
There for each other,
Through life’s hard shoves.

Lovers, best friends, soul mates,
Whether through God or fate,
We’re together.
A pact,
In joy,
That’ll never sever.

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. http://www.espnfc.com/team/honduras/215/blog/post/1916447/honduras-world-cup-2014-summary

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!”


Dear readers,

I love writing the ESPN blog for Honduras and I’m not looking forward to the day they are eventually knocked out. It was inevitable that Honduras would find it difficult but I expected them to put a performance together. I think, despite a few bad tackles, the media has over done the tackling. Thanks to Gerrard, a man who is known for putting in a few dirty challenges himself in a league full of rough tackling, he is one to talk! Hondurans like a physical game: it’s true! Playing five a side, elbows fly, challenges are late, tempers fly, but to say they are dirty or violent is a tad unfair. Honduras’s reputation is not helped by Mexican journalists, who for a long time have had a chip on their shoulder with the CONCACAF cousins. One of those is Andre Marin, who repeatedly writes negative and slightly discriminatory comments about Honduras on Twitter. I have a feeling he is just winding people up. If not, he really does have a chip on his shoulder about Honduras. I would have loved to have seen his face when Honduras beat Mexico in the Azteca. This is one of his tweets.


The reply by the Honduran journalist is amusing. Allow me to translate:

Andres Marin: “For performances like Honduras, in the world thinks the Concacaf is rubbish”

Just a reminder that Honduras finished above Mexico in the qualifiers. Mexico might have gotten off to a better start in the World Cup, but their first game was against a poor Cameroon side that up to just a couple of weeks ago was on strike! In fact, the only two things the country has in common with Honduras’s opposition France is that they speak French and they strike a lot. France were very good. Had Mexico of played, a would have predicted a similar scoreline. To Mexicans reading, this is not a slight on your nation: just a knock at Andres Marin. Talking of knocks at Andres Marin, Honduras journalist Luis Bastillo from the newspaper Diario Diez returned with this:

Luis Bastillo: “For comments like this is that they think that the Mexican sports journalism is rubbish”

Another funny text message doing the rounds was about President Juan Orlando editing out the fifth verse of the Honduran national anthem that pays homage to the French.


Here’s another funny photo to do with the England. I’ve heard the English press has been a bit critical of Wayne Rooney. A tad unfair. Enjoy the picture.


Here’s a final photo that I found doing the rounds on the social media, which has little to do with football, but it is funny to look at. I thought you all might appreciate this.


No more monkeying around, here is the real reason that you came to the blog, for the ESPN entry.