- After missing out on Russia 2018, Los Catrachos are targeting Qatar 2022
- Their rise up the FIFA Ranking is a positive step forward
- Now 64th, they are in their highest position since September 2014
The Honduras Football Association (FENAFUTH) has gone back to the drawing board following the frustration of the national side’s intercontinental play-off defeat by Australia in the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
Four months have elapsed since that setback, which also marked the end of Jorge Luis Pinto’s Catrachos tenure. Though several names have been put forward as his replacement, the position remains vacant.
“There’s no need to rush. We need to take our time here,” FENAFUTH Secretary Jose Mejia told the Honduran press recently. “The qualifiers for the next World Cup start in January and in September this year we have the CONCACAF Nations League. We’re looking at candidates now.”
Los Catrachos will next be in action on 27 May, when they take on Russia 2018 qualifiers Korea Republic in Seoul, before facing El Salvador in Houston, USA, on 2 June.
“It’s going to be an important run-out for us as it will help us continue to shape the national team,” said Mejia on announcing the second of those two friendlies.
Judging by the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, the Hondurans are heading in the right direction, having moved up to 64th, their highest position since reaching 57th in September 2014.
That makes Honduras the sixth-ranked nation in the CONCACAF Zone, behind Mexico (17th), USA (25th), Costa Rica (26th), Jamaica (49th) and Panama (53rd).
The failure to qualify for Russia 2018 meant the end of the road for some of Honduras' most seasoned players, among them the defender Maynor Figueroa and the forward Carlos Costly.
The most experienced member of the Catracho squad with four World Cup qualifying competitions under his belt, Figueroa was also the team captain, while Costly ended his international career as La H’s fourth-highest goalscorer of all time.
Their departure from the international scene means other players will need to step up and replace them when the qualifiers for Qatar 2022 come around:
· Emilio Izaguirre: After distinguishing himself in Scotland, the 31-year-old full-back is making a success of things with Al-Fayha in Saudi Arabia and has what it takes to lead the Honduran defence. Has played at two FIFA World Cups.
· Bryan Acosta: In impressing for Tenerife in Spain, the 24-year-old defensive midfielder has shown he has the character to impose himself in a crucial role. As well as the Russia 2018 qualifiers, he has also appeared at a Men’s Olympic Football Tournament and a CONCACAF Gold Cup.
· Romell Quioto: Now 26, Quioto was Honduras’ leading scorer in the Russia 2018 qualifiers with six goals. Like Acosta, he also has Men’s Olympic Football Tournament and Gold Cup experience behind him.