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Honduras v Australia World Cup Qualifier Preview and Team News - Australia travel to Honduras in tough away opening leg

Andrew Hendrie 8 Nov 2017
  • Honduras host Australia in the first leg of their do-or-die World Cup qualifier
  • First ever competitive football match between the two nations

The long and windy road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia continues for the Socceroos on Saturday morning AEDT as Australia travel to Central America to face Honduras in the opening leg of the do-or-die qualifying clash.

After battling it out across Asia for the better part of two years, it all comes down to this for Ange Postecoglou and his Socceroos outfit - a two-legged showdown with Honduras, the fourth-placed team in CONCACAF, for a ticket to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

A poor end to Australia’s campaign in Asia meant they were propelled into two-legged qualifying encounter with Syria, the third-placed team in Group B - a challenge they were fortunate to emerge victorious in after the Syrians hit the post with a strike that would have seen them win the tie in Sydney last month.

Honduras, in deeply contrasting scenes, snatched the play-off spot in CONCACAF in a dramatic final day of qualifying fixtures that resulted in USA missing out and Panama claiming the third automatic spot. Honduras managed to register a superb 3-2 win over Mexico to send the football-mad nation into euphoria.

The Hondurans, who had qualified for the last two World Cups in Brazil and South Africa, are a very strong side that arguably deserve the favouritism tag heading into the two fixtures, and certainly at least during the first contest at home inside the intimidating Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula.

Key forward Eddie Hernandez is out injured in a big blow for the side, but fan favourite Carlo Costly has been welcomed back into the fold and is set to play a huge role in the Hondurans’ setup. Costly is regarded as Honduran royalty and under difficult conditions at home, the Socceroos will find him difficult to stop - especially when you consider Australia’s fragile defence.

Postecoglou, who has been under immense pressure and refuses to reveal whether he will oversee the team to Russia if they qualify, has arguably stubbornly persisted with a back three with wingbacks for the last few games in qualifying, and it hasn’t worked.

Playing to that structure and formation in Honduras could be a recipe for disaster, while goals are also a huge problem for the Socceroos - more so after this weekend with Tim Cahill, who scored the two goals in Australia’s extra-time win over Syria in Sydney, going off with an injured ankle for Melbourne City.

Australia are also without Mark Milligan and Matthew Leckie, who are both suspended for the first leg.

A kick-off time of 3.30pm on a Friday afternoon is dodgy, but apparently it’s because of big thunderstorms forecast for later on Friday - and certainly not for playing under the sun in maximum humidity! I think this is a real danger match for the Socceroos, and if they’re not careful, the game could be out of reach by the time the return leg is played in Sydney the following Tuesday.

A goalless draw would be a great result for Australia, but I don’t see the Socceroos’ defence - in it’s current setup - holding Honduras out, especially when they conceded twice against a much-lesser team in Syria. As much as I hope it doesn’t happen, I’m tipping a comfortable Honduras win in the first leg.

Stats


  • Australia and Honduras have never met in a competitive football match
  • Both sides have qualified for the last two World Cups (Australia have made the last three)
  • Honduras haven’t lost at the San Pedro Sula since a November 11 loss to Panama in 2016 - almost exactly one year ago

Squads


HONDURAS

Goalkeepers: Donis Escober, Ricardo Canales.

Defenders: Brayan Beckeles, Félix Crisanto, Emilio Izaguirre, Carlos Sánchez, Maynor Figueroa, Henry Figueroa, Johnny Palacios, Ever Alvarado, Allan Vargas.

Midfielders: Boniek García, Alexander López, Mario Martínez, Brayan Acosta, Alfredo Mejía, Jorge Claros, Sergio Peña, Oliver Morazán, Michael Chirinos.

Forwards: Ovidio Lanza, Anthony Lozano, Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis, Carlo Costly.

AUSTRALIA

Goalkeepers: Mark Birighitti, Mitchell Langerak, Mathew Ryan, Danny Vukovic.

Defenders: Milos Degenek, Matthew Jurman, Ryan McGowan, Trent Sainsbury, Bailey Wright.

Midfielders: Mustafa Amini, Aziz Behich, Alex Gersbach, Craig Goodwin, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, James Jeggo, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie, Massimo Luongo, Awer Mabil, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, Josh Risdon, James Troisi

Forwards: Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Jamie Maclaren, Nikita Rukavytsya.

Tips



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Honduras v Australia World Cup Qualifier Preview and Team News - Australia travel to Honduras in tough away opening leg

The long and windy road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia continues for the Socceroos on Saturday morning AEDT as Australia travel to Central America to face Honduras in the opening leg of the do-or-die qualifying clash.

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