After dramatic moments, Honduras and Australia start the final battle for a place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia on Friday, November 10. The teams compete for the first of the two matches involving the fourth place in the qualifying round of Central and North America and the winner of the replay of the Asian qualifiers.
The first leg will be played at the Metropolitan Olympic stadium in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The kickoff is scheduled for 20h (Brasília time). The return match is scheduled for November 15 in Sydney, Australia. In case of equality, the definition will happen through the balance of goals and, if necessary, the goals scored away from home.
The recent performance of Honduras
A win against Mexico, then ranked in the final round of the semi-final of the Central and North American qualifiers, ensured the survival of Honduras, who are aiming for their third consecutive World Cup and their fourth appearance in the history of the tournament.
The first one happened in 1982 in the Glass of the World of Spain. The next two were in 2010 in South Africa and 2014 in Brazil. In every world the team never managed to pass the group stage.
The victory against the Mexicans coupled with the United States’ 2-1 defeat by Trinidad and Tobago eliminated the Hondurans in fourth place in the decisive phase of the CONCACAF qualifiers with 13 points (three wins, four draws and three defeats). The three direct vacancies remained with Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama.
A match against Mexico was also decisive for Honduras’ survival in the previous qualifying round. A goalless draw in the opponents’ home led the Hondurans to eight points (two wins, two draws and two losses). It was enough to overcome Canada (seven) and secure the second place of key A.
The last minute movements within the field were also repeated off the pitch. Coach Jorge Luis Pinto made two calls on the eve of the confrontation to strengthen his team. The Colombian called goalkeeper Kevin Hernandez and striker Eddie Hernandez.
The first name was just for casting. It should be as second reserve in the vacancy that would be Luis Lopez, injured. The second, however, is a desperate hope of trying to improve the offensive power of the national team. After a face injury suffered in October while defending his club, Motágua, Eddie will have to wear a mask to avoid worsening the injury if used by the coach.
The so-called athletes were:
Goalkeepers: Donis Escober (Olimpia), Kevin Hernández (Real Spain) and Ricardo Canales (Vida).
Defenders: Brayan Beckeles (Necaxa – Mexico), Felix Crisanto and Henry Figueroa (Motagua); Emilio Izaguirre (Al-Fayha – Saudi Arabia), Carlos Sánchez (Honduras Progreso), Maynor Figueroa (Dallas – USA), Johnny Palacios and Éver Alvarado (Olimpia), and Allans Vargas (Real Spain).
Socks: Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo – USA), Alexander López and Michaell Chirinos (Olimpia); Mario Martínez (Real Spain), Bryan Acosta (Tenerife – Spain), Alfredo Mejía (Xanthi-Gracia), Jorge Claros (Real Spain), Sergio Peña (Real Sociedad), Oliver Morazán and Ovidio Lanza (Juticalpa).
Attackers: Romell Kyoto and Albert Elis (Houston Dynamo – USA), Antony Lozano (Barcelona B – Spain), Carlo Costly (Olimpia) and Eddie Hernández (Motagua).
The current form of Australia
Drama also did not lack in the Australian fight to survive in the fight for a vacancy of the World-wide one. It would be their fourth and first achievement since the local federation decided to risk and try to improve the level of competitiveness of the so-called ‘Socceroos’ transferring the team from the qualifiers from Oceania to Asia.
On their continent, Australia dominated the play-offs. However, Oceania does not concede a ‘whole’ spot for the World Cup. The winner of the local stages has to face a team from South America in the fight for the classification.
For Asia, four direct places are awarded and the winner of the play-offs, between the two third-placed finishers, is given the right to play in the playoffs with the four-place CONCACAF.
Australia finished third in Group B with 19 points (five wins, four draws and one loss). It was the same score of Saudi Arabia, which, however, secured the classification thanks to the best goal balance.
In the Asian recap, the surprising Syria was the Australian rival. In the first game, on neutral ground, since the Syrians can not perform at home due to civil war in the country, there was a 1-1 draw. The score was repeated in Australia. However, in the overtime, a goal from Tim Cahill, who had already scored in regulation time, ensured survival.
Perhaps the greatest Australian football idol Cahill suffered an injury in the Australian Championship and became doubtful for the clashes with Honduras. You will have to undergo further tests to see if you can perform. If it is vetoed, it will be the most important low for the opening game of the playoffs, but not the only one. Mark Milligan and Mathew Lecki will not be able to work in Honduras. They are suspended by the accumulation of yellow cards.
The players called for the duels were:
Goalkeepers: Mitchell Langerak (Levante, Spain), Mat Ryan (Brighton, England), Danny Vukovic (Genk, Belgium);
Defenders: Aziz Behich (Bursaspor, Turkey), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F Marinos, Japan), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg, Norway), Matthew Jurman (Suwon, South Korea), Ryan McGowan (Al Sharjah, United Arab Emirates) Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning, China), Bailey Wright (Bristol City, England);
Socks: Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Jackson Irvine (Hull City, England), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa, England), James Jeggo (Sturm Graz, Austria), Massimo Luongo Victory), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town, England), Tom Rogic (Celtic, Scotland), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory)
Attackers: Tim Cahill (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern, Switzerland), Robbie Kruse (Bochum, Germany)
History of the matches between Honduras and Australia
Before the qualifying rounds for the World Cup in Russia, the national teams of Honduras and Australia have never faced each other.
Our Prediction: Honduras win @ 2.00