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Luis Fernando Suarez

Luis Fernando Suarez

Latest Team: Honduras

2014 FIFA World Cup

  • 3GP
  •  
  • 0Won
  •  
  • 0Draw
  •  
  • 3Lost
  •  

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Previous Clubs/Countries: Atletico Nacional (twice), Deportivo Cali, Deportes Tolima, Aucas (twice), Ecuador, Juan Aurich

Honours: Colombian First Division: 1999

When it came to replacing Reinaldo Rueda following the last World Cup cycle, Suarez wasn't the first choice of the Honduran Football Federation. In fact, he wasn't even the third choice, with Juan Carlos Osorio, Ruben Omar Romano, and Rene Simoes all turning down the job. Osorio even accepted the job before delivering a stunning about-face.

Yet in Suarez, Honduras happened upon an outstanding coach who succeeded in qualifying the Catrachos for their second consecutive World Cup.

As a player, Suarez was a solid, but by no means spectacular defender, who was part of the Atletico Nacional side that won the 1999 Copa Libertadores. Shortly after retiring as a player in 1995 with Deportivo Pereira, Suarez returned to Nacional, working as manager of the youth team and then as an assistant coach, before ultimately taking on the manager's role in 1999.

Suarez proved to be a quick study, leading the club to its seventh league title that year. He quickly moved on to manage Deportivo Cali and Deportes Tolima in his native Colombia

Yet it was Suarez's work at club level in Ecuador with unfancied side Aucas that got him noticed. He led the club to the first-half championship in 2004, and as a consequence he was named manager of the Ecuadorian national team in September of that year.

Ecuador were already coming off their first-ever appearance at the World Cup finals in 2002, but Suarez took La Tri to greater heights in 2006, leading the team into the second round before they were eliminated by England 1-0 thanks to a David Beckham free kick.

Buoyed by that run, Suarez continued as Ecuador manager into the 2010 World Cup cycle, but couldn't duplicate his earlier success. His side were eliminated in the first round of the 2007 Copa America without recording a point, and when Ecuador dropped their first three World Cup qualifiers, Suarez was dismissed.

He returned to club football, but spells at Aucas, a return to Atletico Nacional, and a ten-month stint with Peruvian side Juan Aurich all ended in disappointment.

For that reason, Suarez's tenure with Honduras has seen his reputation restored to a degree. The team has struggled in spurts, but they delivered when they had to. During the semifinal round, Honduras didn't secure passage until the last game, when they hammered Canada 8-1 at home. The final round Hexagonal had some rough stretches as well, including a spell during the summer when Los Catrachos dropped three games out of four. But a 2-1 road win at Mexico proved critical to Honduras' qualification efforts, and a 2-2 draw at Jamaica ultimately secured their passage to Brazil.

Suarez was also in charge of the Honduras under-23 squad at the London Olympics, with team reaching the knockout stages of a FIFA tournament for the first time in the country's history.

Strengths: Suarez proved himself to be adaptable during World Cup qualifying, shuttling between one and two-forward alignments depending on which players were available. That flexibility extends to his relationships with his players, with Suarez able to use different methods of motivation to maximise performance.

Weaknesses: If there is one aspect of Suarez's approach that has come under criticism, it's that he hasn't done enough to blood the next generation of forwards, and that during this last cycle, he was too reliant on Carlo Costly.

Career high: Suarez took Ecuador to the round of 16 at the 2006 World Cup, the highest finish in the nation's history.

Career low: After returning to club football following his stint with Ecuador, Suarez struggled with several clubs, none more so than his beloved Atletico Nacional, where he lasted just 12 matches -- winning just once -- before being dismissed.

Tactics: Suarez prefers to operate a 4-4-2 that utilises two holding midfielders and relies on the wide midfielders like Oscar Boniek Garcia for creativity. But when circumstances prevented him from going down that route during qualifying, Suarez went with a 4-1-4-1 alignment.

Quotes: "Football is for enjoyment, not suffering." -- Suarez to Honduran outlet Diez.hn after clinching qualification to Brazil.

Trivia: Suarez is one of three Colombians who will be managing teams at the World Cup. The others are Jorge Luis Pinto, who will be leading Costa Rica, and Reinaldo Rueda, who will be in charge of Ecuador.

Words: Jeff Carlisle