Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - Page 19 News List

WORLD CUP: Honduras, Ecuador meet in clash of former coaches

Reuters, CURITIBA, Brazil

Ecuador’s Enner Valencia, left, vies for the ball with Switzerland’s Johan Djourou, center, and Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio in their FIFA World Cup Group E match at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia, Brazil, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Honduras and Ecuador, who lost their opening games, chase a vital World Cup victory today in a game that will see both coaches plotting the downfall of their former teams.

In an unusual twist, Honduras are led by Luis Fernando Suarez, the man who guided Ecuador to the round-of-16 in 2006, their best showing at a World Cup.

Ecuador are coached by Reinaldo Rueda, who was in charge of Honduras in their 2010 World Cup campaign when they failed to make it past the group stage and did not score a goal.

To add to the feeling of familiarity, both coaches are Colombians.

“I had great times in Honduras, but now I’m here and as always I must go for the win,” Rueda said. “Honduras are a great team, we all know their ability. They didn’t start well, but they want and they need to win as much as we do.”

The two teams have never met in a competitive fixture, but have played out eight draws in 13 friendlies.

They will not be able to settle for canceling each other out today as both need to win to maintain a realistic chance of progressing from a group which also includes France and Switzerland.

“I must have had about four or five of their current squad when I was there, so I do know something about them, but there is no real advantage in playing against another Latin American team,” Suarez said of rivals Ecuador.

Although both teams lost on Sunday, they put in contrasting performances.

Striker Enner Valencia put Ecuador in front against Switzerland, but they were eventually beaten 2-1 after conceding a stoppage-time goal.

Honduras lost 3-0 to France and played for more than half the game with 10 men after England-based midfielder Wilson Palacios was sent off. Palacios misses the Ecuador game because of suspension.

Rueda said his team had got carried away in the final stages of the Switzerland game and paid the price for being naive.

The team got high profile support from Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, who said that reaching a third World Cup was an achievement in itself.

“We should be proud of our national team. Luck deserted us on Sunday, but let’s not give up hope,” Correa said.

Honduras, who have never won a game at the World Cup finals, will look to strikers Jerry Bengtson and Carlo Costly at least to break a 32-year goal drought.

They have not scored at the finals since they drew 1-1 with Northern Ireland in 1982.

Fans in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba will be hoping for a more lively match than the 0-0 draw played out by Iran and Nigeria at the Arena da Baixada on Monday.

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