Ecuador's Cristian Noboa celebrates their win over Honduras as Roger Espinoza looks on
USA Today Sports

World Cup: Honduras clinging to slim chance of advancement after Ecuador loss

Honduras aren’t dead yet, and head coach Luis Suarez said his team will fight to the last breath as long as there’s a chance.

Albeit, that chance – following their second Group E loss in as many games in a 2-1 defeat Friday against Ecuador – is a slim one.

Honduras will have to defeat Switzerland, who are currently second in the group, in the finale Wednesday in Manaus and hope front-runner France defeat Ecuador. Los Catrachos will also have to hope for a very favorable goal differential to advance to the Round of 16.

Not only would it defy overwhelming odds, it also means Honduras would have to record their first World Cup victory in their ninth try.

“Today we still have that possibility, even though it is remote, but it still exists and we’re going to fight for it,” Suarez said through a translator in his postgame remarks. “And in that match in Manaus we will try to look for our play as we’ve always done. We will try to find the best ways to succeed and get a victory. As long as there is a possibility, we will not lower our guard.”

Honduras and their handful of MLS stars have been unable to match the magic of other CONCACAF teams in this tournament, with Costa Rica – following their historic upset of Italy earlier in the day – the USMNT, and Mexico all either already qualified for the knockout round or in good position to advance.

But there were improvements from their 3-0 opening loss to France, Suarez said.

Carlo Costly’s goal in the 31st  minute was Honduras’ first in the World Cup in 32 years, ending a 510-minute scoring drought that stretched back to the 1982 tournament. Suarez also noted that his side had more shots (16-8) and nearly equal possession.

“We improved when we compared to the match against France,” he said. “But there’s a little bit missing. There are some players that in fact still have a ways to go to get involved in the game.”

After coming off the bench against France, Houston Dynamo midfielder Boniek Garcia got the start and went 82 minutes. New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengtson started alongside Costly, and San Jose Earthquakes central defender Victor Bernardez led the backline.

Suarez also said the game’s implications – Ecuador would have been eliminated with a loss – added to the stress for a side not used to playing on such a stage.

“It was complicated to handle the nervousness and anxiety because of everything that was at stake,” he said. “Whoever won this match was going to take an important step forward.”

Ecuador coach Reinaldo Rueda, who coached Honduras in the 2010 World Cup, was impressed with what he saw from his old team.

“I believe Honduras showed how much it has grown and matured,” he said through a translator in his postgame remarks.

Suarez said he didn’t want to dwell on Costly’s goal due to the fact that they lost the match and still have a crucial game ahead. He also noted that there is a lot of room for improvement for Honduras to compete at the World Cup level.

“If we want to reach the higher levels at the World Cup we would have to look for many other things,” he said. “And today if there was something we were missing, even though it was improved, it was playing football. Even though holding the ball and having the ball is not as important sometimes when you think about the result, but it does give you confidence. … We don’t have that confidence with the ball we need to have that command over the game that you need.”