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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Honduras seek steady improvement in fortunes

Honduras have only made it to the knockout rounds of the FIFA U-17 World Cup once, but are a much-improved side and will look to do better this year.

fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Sep 30, 2017 15:58 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
FIFA U-17 World Cup,FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017,Honduras football team
Honduras will look to make the knockout rounds for the second time in their history. (AFP/FIFA)

Honduras were absent from the FIFA U-17 World Cup stage from 1985 to 2005. But since the 2007 edition in South Korea, Los Catrachos have regularly qualified.

They failed to register a single win in their debut tournament and again exited in the first round in Nigeria two years later though an improved performance saw them conceding fewer goals.

In UAE in 2013 they reached the quarterfinals, but once again they bowed out in the group stages in Chile 2015.

KNOW THE COACH: Jose Valladares

Jose Valladares, 55, is vastly experienced at this age level, having taken charge of Honduras at both UAE 2013 and Chile 2015.

Also on his CV is a brief stint in charge of Nicaraguan side CD Walter Ferretti, who he steered to a second place finish in the country’s top club league last year.

Having sold salt, socks and sweets to make ends meet as a young boy, Valladares knows the value of hard work. “Few Hondurans expected more than a simple participation in the U-17 World Cup at the time of my hiring. But the junior soccer players have expectations, and my job is to make them believe they can compete against teams nurtured in totally different soccer cultures,” he has said. Prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation.

PASSAGE TO INDIA: Honduras finished second behind Costa Rica in the Central American zone qualifiers to reach the CONCACAF U-17 championship where they were in Group A with hosts Panama, Curacao and Haiti.

Results in CONCACAF U-17: Lost to Panama 4-2; bt Curacao 3-0; bt Haiti 3-1 (group stage); bt Cuba 7-1; lost to US 3-0 (classification round)

PAST U-17 PERFORMANCE: 2013: Quarter-finals. Group stage: 2007, 2009, 2015. Did not qualify: 1985-2005.

POSSIBLE GAME-CHANGERS

Name: Carlos Mejia

Age: 17

Club: Vida Reservas

Position: Forward

Why he is special: A stand-out striker in the last CONCACAF U-17 played in Panama, he got a hattrick against Cuba and that helped him move to the top of the Golden Boot standings. His team hopes he gets over an injury in time to work magic with his left foot in India.

Name: Patrick Palacios

Age: 17

Club: Real España Reservas

Position: Forward

Why he is special: Equally electrifying as Carlos, he too scored a hattrick in the first half of the CONCACAF U-17 tie against Cuba. Has the uncanny knack of converting half-chances.

Name: Emilio Campos

Age: 17

Club: UDG Mexico

Position: Defender

Why he is special: The only member of the Honduran team to play for a foreign club (in Mexico), he is known for his hard tackles.

First Published: Sep 20, 2017 17:13 IST