PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Honduras coach Luis Suarez says his team may be an outsider, even “the Cinderella of our group”, but he rejects any suggestion it plays dirty.
“Some call it a good style of aggression, others might call it an intense style of play” he said ahead of his team’s World Cup opener against France on Sunday. “We want to win, but certainly can’t be called violent.”
Honduras played a bruising pre-tournament friendly against England littered with fouls, one of which saw defender Brayan Beckeles sent off.
Earlier Saturday, French coach Didier Deschamps said Honduras was “combative” but “I certainly don’t want to limit this team to just being aggressive fighters.” Suarez noted his team didn’t get any red cards in the qualifying matches, suggesting the focus on the team’s physicality was misplaced.
Honduras has made it to the World Cup finals just twice, but has never won a match. In South Africa it failed to score.
But with Suarez at the helm, Honduras might have found the manager who can cause an upset.
In 2006, he was in charge of Ecuador — which is in the same group as Honduras this time around — when it stunned Poland 2-0 and reached the quarterfinals. In September, Honduras became only the second team to defeat Mexico at Estadio Azteca during World Cup qualifying. The team also beat the United States and Costa Rica on its way to Brazil.
“We are the Cinderella of our group,” he said. “If someone wants to beat us, they are going to have to try very hard.”
Suarez said any suggestion that Costa Rica’s shock 3-1 victory over Uruguay earlier Saturday might be an inspiration was unfounded.
“It doesn’t hang in my mind, in fact it doesn’t mean anything to me,” he said. “I feel no extra pressure for the match tomorrow.”
Up against a star-studded French team desperate to prove itself after rifts in the squad led to a near implosion in South Africa, Honduras will surely need a resolute defense. Celtic left-back Emilio Izaguirre will be key, along with captain and goalkeeper Noel Valladares.
His team has been playing a 4-4-2 formation, but Suarez wasn’t going to share anything on tactics ahead of time.
“I know what I’m going to do, but I don’t think I should tell you. One shouldn’t show all your cards,” he said.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.