Honduras vs Australia – Friday 4:00PM UCT/10:00PM GMT – Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano – San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
After the CONCACAF qualification drama is before the intercontinental playoff drama for Honduras. Los Catrachos slipped into the intercontinental playoffs most dramatically on matchday 10 of the CONCACAF Fifth Round, better known as the Hex, beating Mexico at home at the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano after going down twice.
At the same time, Honduras also had to rely on already disqualified Trinidad and Tobago to get the job done against the United States. The Soca Warriors did just that defeating Christian Pulisic and Co. 2-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, which meant that the USA was overtaken by both Panama and Honduras falling to fifth place failing to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
This sort of drama is quite common in CONCACAF, which is often underestimated by outsiders. It is true that the North, Central and Caribbean zone does not possess the most dangerous national teams on the planet, but geography and climate makes the Hexagonal a problematic qualification group to navigate. The Central American teams Panama, Honduras, and Costa Rica especially can be difficult places to travel to for the likes of the United States and even Mexico.
The Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, for example, is considered one of the most hostile grounds in the CONCACAF region. Furthermore, climate and local politics further add to the difficulty that away teams can face when going there. Those are all factors that should not be underestimated by Australia, who also have to deal with the element of having to make the difficult long journey from Australia to Honduras.
At the same time, the Socceroos are very knowledgeable when it comes to deal with travel. Australia made the switch from the Oceanic Football Confederation to the Asian Football Confederation in 2005, which meant that the Socceroos regularly face long journeys to the South East Asia, the Middle East and even Central Asia.
Furthermore, Australia has already experienced a playoff round during this qualification cycle when they faced Syria in the fourth round of AFC qualification. That stage was a particular narrow affair with Australia needing extra-time to settle the matter against a country that due to the war in Syria had to play the first leg in exile in Malaysia. Honduras will most certainly provide a step up from Syria both in quality and in organisation, and the Los Catrachos will, therefore, be the favourites to win the match at home and then settle the matter in Australia on November 15.
Honduras vs Australia – Player to look out for:
Alberth Elis #17 – Honduras (Houston Dynamo)
These are exciting days for Alberth Elis. The 21-year-old has reached the MLS Cup Conference Finals with Houston Dynamo and now has the chance to help his country qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Loaned by the Houston Dynamo from Mexican giants Monterrey Elis has shown that he can be a top striker in Major League Soccer scoring ten goals in 26 games and helping his side to reach the playoffs. Even more critical Elis scored the game-winner in the MLS knockout stage against Sporting Kansas showing that the young forward can come up big when under pressure. Dynamic and quick Elis can play up front and on either wing where he is most often used by Honduras’ national team coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
Tim Cahill #17 – Australia (Melbourne City)
The 37-year-old Tim Cahill remains the heart-and-soul of the Socceroos, and it is, therefore, no surprise that his fitness—he turns 38 next month—has been a major talking point. Currently, injured Australia’s head coach Ange Postecoglou has decided to nominate him regardless, and the Socceroos’ team doctors are working feverishly to get him fit for the game against Honduras on Friday. Cahill was treated to regular icing and compression as the forward was even treated on the long flight from Australia to Honduras. All of this was recorded on the Socceroos’ and Tim Cahill’s social media accounts, which highlights how important the striker remains for the Australian national side.
Honduras vs Australia – Match Stats
- This will be the first-ever meeting between these teams.
- The Socceroos only faced a Central American nation once beating Costa Rica 1-0 in November 2013.
- Honduras have not won back-to-back games since November 2016.
- A 2-0 win against the UAE was the Socceroos only clean sheet in the last 12 months.
- Honduras have conceded 19 goals in the Hex, more than any of the other five teams at that stage of CONCACAF qualification.
- Honduras came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Mexico and eliminate the United States for the final North American sport in the playoffs.
- Australia also came from behind to qualify for this playoff beating Syria 3-0 on aggregate in Sydney.
- Australia will have a slight advantage playing the second leg at home.
- Honduras have qualified for three World Cups (1982, 2010 and 2014).
- Australia have qualified for four World Cups (1974, 2006, 2010 and 2014)
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Honduras vs Australia 3-1
Honduras vs Australia – Possible Lineups
Escobar – Beckeles, Henry Figueroa, Maynor Figueroa, Alvarado – Acosta, Mejia – Elis, Lopez, Quioto – Costly
Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto
Ryan – Sainsbury, Degenek, Jurman – Leckie, Troisi, Miligan, Mooy, Smith – Cahill, Rogic
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.