It's been no rest for the weary this week as Honduras head coach Luis Fernando Suarez, who named his squad last week, is now taking his selected 23 to Miami as they go about their final preparations for the World Cup, just five weeks away until kickoff.
The team was due to travel to Miami on Sunday, although the date had to be changed so the players could spend Mother's Day with their families; a day of high importance in Honduras. Of the expected arrivals, it was only the players who ply their trade in the Honduran, MLS and other Central American leagues who were due in South Florida. Many leagues in Europe still have a week or two to go, so the likes of Emilio Izaguirre, Roger Espinoza and Maynor Figueroa will be meeting later in May.
Meanwhile, Honduras team manager Geraldo Ramos also has been laying down the final preparations in Brazil, everything from the flights, to security, to having their own chefs in their accommodations. He finished by proudly claiming, "Solo falta cerrar las maletas" -- "Only have to close the suitcases."
Coach Suarez also has named seven reserve players who are to remain on standby in case any of the 23 has to pull out due to injury. Some of the players who were expected to be on the plane to Brazil, but instead will be used only in an emergency are midfielder Edder Delgado, defender Johnny Leveron, goalkeeper Yul Arzu and Spanish-born striker Jonathan "Jona" Mejia. The remaining players on the list are strikers Bryan Rochez and Diego Reyes and defensive midfielder Alexander Lopez.
Some have raised eyebrows about whether defender Juan Pablo Montes is fit enough to be going to Brazil, despite having been injured until recently. On the whole though, most Hondurans have gotten over any surprise selections and sit anxiously awaiting as the World Cup creeps near. In the meantime, they have a couple of friendly games coming up in the U.S. to look forward to, which have left Hondurans licking their lips with anticipation. However, Miami does not hold great memories for La Bicolor. The last friendly they played here, they were thrashed 5-0 by Brazil; a footballing lesson, the Honduran press said.
In addition to their friendlies against Turkey on May 29 in Washington, D.C. and Israel on June 1 in Houston, England just happen to be another opponent for one of the friendly games. Honduras will face the Three Lions on June 7 at Miami's Sun Life Stadium, in what should be a packed house with both countries having large numbers of expatriates living in Miami and in the state of Florida. It will be the first time the two teams have met; however, it won't be the first time that coach Suarez has faced England.
While coach of Ecuador in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, his team was knocked out of the tournament in the second round thanks to a cunning David Beckham free kick that was bundled in at the near post. Even though this match is of less importance, he will be hoping a good performance will raise his team's morale before they fly to Brazil. It is a good exercise for both teams, as Honduras will want to be tested against European opposition with a comparable playing style to their opening-game opponents, France.