Honduras failed to take advantage of its best chance to make a splash in the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa yesterday, losing to Chile, 1-0 in its first game.
Entering World Cup play, Honduras was one of the lowest-ranked of the 32 teams to qualify for the tournament. In addition to their underdog status, the Catrachos, as the Hondurans are known, were placed in Group H, probably the most difficult group in the tournament. The group includes Spain, Chile and Switzerland, all ranked among the top 24 teams in the world.
For Honduras to have any sort of success in South Africa, they were going to have to pull off some pretty memorable upsets. In Game 1 of the tournament, they were unable to do so, falling to a solid Chile team Wednesday afternoon in Nelspruit.
While Honduras played respectably, they were considerably overmatched by a fluid Chilean team, which qualified for the World Cup as the second-place finisher in the South American region, known as Conmebol. Chile outshot Honduras 20-7 and held possession for 56 percent of the match.
In the 34th minute, Chilean forward Jean Beausejour scored when he and Honduran defender Roger Espinoza both slid for a low cross played along the six-yard box. Espinoza attempted to clear the ball, but, as he did, it caromed off a sliding Beausejour into the Honduras net. The unlucky – and ugly – goal was the lone tally of the match. Honduras mustered some pedestrian efforts on the Chilean goal in the second half, but the Catrachos never really threatened the superior Chilean side.
“The best chance we have is against Chile; it’s the team we know the best,” former national team coach José de la Paz Herrera, told The Nica Times in May. “But if we lose against Chile, it will get very difficult because the next game is against Spain, and they are the best. And if we lose that one, we’re already out.”
Next Monday, Honduras will face Spain, which was ranked as the second best team in the world prior to the World Cup. However, a Honduras upset is not outside the realm of possibility. On Wednesday, in the biggest upset thus far in the first round, Spain lost to Switzerland 1-0. In May, Costa Rica, which finished tied with Honduras for third place in the North and South American region (Concacaf), beat Switzerland 1-0 in an international friendly.