Australia 'has the utmost respect' for Honduras - Tim Cahill
Socceroos star Tim Cahill has given a glowing endorsement of Honduras after landing in San Pedro Sula for Australia's World Cup qualifier.
Encouragingly for his chances of playing in the first leg, Australia's all-time leading goal-scorer was walking freely on arrival late on Tuesday.
He was greeted by a crowd of local reporters for whom he is the chief source of Australian fascination.
Ever the statesman, Cahill came with a message of respect contrary to sensational media reports coming from outside of the country.
"As players, we respect the country and people, which is most important," he said.
"What media say is different to what players think. I'm happy here in Honduras.
"It is a country I already respect a lot, but we want to get a good result in the match.
"I know Victor Bernardez as a player and he used to play for the national team. For [national team veteran Maynor] Figueroa too, we have the utmost respect.
"We're coming here to play football. It's about football and enjoying that occasion, and us to take in the surroundings."
Locals have been unimpressed with Australian media reports that paint the country as hostile or violent, with a particular distaste for the use of the "murder capital of the world" tag that the city cannot shake.
There's no disputing San Pedro Sula's horrific crime rate, with a murder record that until recently made it the world's most dangerous city.
Honduras' second-biggest city has a homicide rate of 112 homicides per 100,000 people.
By comparison, Australia's rate is one homicide per 100,000.
But statistics only tell one side of the story; much of the violence is gang-related and confined to well-known no-go zones.
Teammate Bailey Wright agreed that Hondurans had rolled out the red carpet, in contrast to their experience in their World Cup playoffs with Uruguay.
"Regarding what's in the media, I don't really look too much at what's been said. I make my mind up when I'm here and so far it's been nice," he said.
"Everyone's been really friendly and up for a chat, asking how we are. I feel very welcome."
On leaving Melbourne, Cahill was downbeat on his chances of playing in the first leg but his mood was more optimistic on arrival.
"I can't promise anything, all I can promise is I'm working hard," he said.
"It's my country. I'm very proud and I'll do anything possible to be available."