HONDURAS (Group H)
0-2 vs Chile
0-1 vs Spain
0-0 vs Switzerland
Final Results: Played 3, drawn 1, lost 2, 0 goals scored, 3 goals allowed. Fourth place in Group H, eliminated in group stage.
Even before all of the injuries that hit the Honduran national team, their chances for advancement beyond the group stage were minimal. The Catrachos were drawn with one of the candidates for the title, one of the best South American sides not called Argentina or Brazil, and a middle-of-the-road European team. One winnable match and two almost certain losses would not equal World Cup success.
Then in May came the injury to Carlo Costly, which took away at least 65% of Honduras' scoring output. A few days before the opener, Julio De León suffered a leg injury that ruled him out of the tournament. There went Wilson Palacios' most effective partner in the midfield. David Suazo and Wilson Palacios got hurt during pre-tournament warmups, but were able to recuperate with varying levels of effectiveness. The result was that a Honduran side already up against it saw their World Cup aspirations end before the competition even started.
Of course, you still have to play the games, and they went roughly as expected. Chile and Spain bossed proceedings against Honduras, and refused to allow the Honduran players much time on the ball. Chile never really looked like scoring more than one goal, but Spain could have scored much more than David Villa's double. Only a missed penalty (by Villa) and some last-ditch defending by Honduran defenders prevented a larger scoreline. The match against Switzerland was much more open, with chances for both sides, but as in previous matches of the group the Honduran players were not able to make the final connection to produce a goal. The 0-0 result was the only consolation that the Honduran team would receive.
As for the players, the best of the Hondurans were Wilson Palacios and Víctor Bernárdez, but there really weren't much to choose from. David Suazo ran about but never did what he was selected to do, which was score goals. Carlos Pavón played 60 minutes in the first group match against Chile, was substituted, and never played again. Wilson Palacios never had much support among his midfield partners, aside from maybe Amado Guevara. The defensive unit actually played well, but given the rest of the team on the field the best Honduras could hope for in their matches was 0-0.
The next qualifying cycle will be a critical one for Honduras. The generation that reawakened Honduran football during the 2000s, came close to qualifying for Korea/Japan 2002 and finally achieved it in 2010, will finally retire from the scene. Pavón is 36, Guevara is 34, Valladares is 33, and Turcios is 32. Suazo is 30 and will be past his peak by the start of the next qualifying cycle. Honduras hasn't done as well in international competitions at junior level, so it remains to be seen who will take their places. The one bright spot is that Wilson Palacios and Carlo Costly will be in their prime over the next four years, and Honduras will need their leadership to move forward. They could also use another effective striker and some less predictable tactics overall.