Five things from Honduras' loss to Turkey
The Honduras team that started Thursday's friendly versus a good Turkish team (minus their two best players, Ardu Turan and Nuri Sahin) mirrored the one that's likely to line up against the French on June 15, excluding Carlos Costly, Luis Garrido and Boniek Garcia, the latter two still being out with injuries. Honduras began spritely, knocking the ball around purposely, positively and with a certain amount of passion that the Catrachos like to see. Honduras was definitely on top, dominating a Turkish team that's only lost one in ten games (against Holland). How that solid start evaporated in the second half. - Report: Honduras 0-2 Turkey Played in Washington D.C.'s RFK Stadium, the Catrachos came heavy in numbers with 20,723 there to support their country. Unfortunately, they would have returned in a sombre mood having witnessed their team's woeful second half performance. But Honduras head coach Luis Fernando Suarez has reasons to be content with his team's first half performance. He claims that the defeat will not change the team's mentality in the World Cup preparations. There are some things he will have learned from the game though, and these are five points he will need to look at. 1. Struggles in defence Right-back Bryan Beckeles started the game well, but his performance worsened in the second half. His defending for the first Turkish goal was described as "flojo" by a commentator (meaning slack, loose, weak), when he allowed Turkish wingback Ishak Dogan to walk straight through him and set up Mevlut Erdinic standing unmarked in the middle of the box. Honduras' other right back, Arnold Peralta, appears not fully fit, allegedly angering Suarez. France's Franck Ribery will be rubbing his hands at the sight of this performance. Beckeles must improve. Central defender Osman Chavez also gave the ball away carelessly for the second goal, and the consequent defending with his teammates allowed the Turks to run straight at them. More defensive work needed. 2. Lack of strength in depth Bar Germany or Spain, this is quite normal in most teams, but it will worry Suarez if his select eleven get injured. Whereas Roger Espinoza, Andy Najar, Wilson Palacios and Emilio Izaguirre played well, the players who came on, such as Mario Martinez, Marvin Chavez, Juan Pablo Montes and Rony Martinez, looked directionless, unconfident and ineffective. Suarez has one last chance to make changes to the final 23 next week, but the fringe players will have to improve if they want to make an appearance in this World Cup. 3. Lack of creativity This is a long-standing issue. Although Honduras knocked the ball around neatly in the first half, the team still look unsure of themselves going forward. While much of the creative work comes from the wings, very little comes from central midfield, making their attacking play one dimensional with no plan B. Better opposition will take advantage of this. Suarez has remained faithful to a 4-4-2 formation, but this is long outdated. His strikers also need to get involved more if attacking midfield players are struggling to retain the ball. 4. Mentality Despite it being a friendly, there has been talk from some Honduran of players not pulling their weight. Honduran fans have become accustomed to it, much to their frustration. Players switching off, disjointed passes, allowing opposition to pressure them and make defensive errors. Jerry Palacios looked tired, Jerry Bengston was not coming back to collect the ball, Mario Martinez found it hard to get involved. New team motivator Jorge Valdano has been brought in to install a winning mentality. There was not much sign of it in the second half. A change of attitude is in order. 5. Positives A bit of perspective is needed, as it was just a friendly game. It enabled Suarez to look at his fringe players and see them working as a team. As stated, the first half they played well, Izaguirre was busy, goalkeeper Noel Valladares was consistent, and Espinoza put in a shift. Honduras usually rises to the occasion, as they did in the qualifiers, so expect more complete performances against Israel and England. It is better to make mistakes now, rather than at the World Cup. But the game was a good test, and Suarez will have plenty of food for thought.