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Matchday 14: Messi, Argentina in round of 16

Five Aside Jun 25, 2014
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Despite losses, Honduras holding on

Honduras Jun 21, 2014
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Honduras' prediction: Group stage

Honduras Jun 9, 2014
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Jun 5, 2014

Second loss a concern for Honduras

Gil Vermouth is congratulated by his teammates after wrapping up Israel's 4-2 win over Honduras.
Gil Vermouth is congratulated by his teammates after wrapping up Israel's 4-2 win over Honduras.

If Honduran morale sank after the Turkish game, imagine how the Catrachos felt after losing 4-2 to Israel, a team that sits 48 places below them in the FIFA World Rankings.

HondurasHonduras
IsraelIsrael
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While it's good to keep a bit of perspective about friendlies, supporters are feeling that La H has lost form just before the World Cup, with some players showing minimal passion and plenty of sloppiness.

In the Turkey game, fans at least watched a good first-half performance that kept them buzzing, while the second-half substitutions meant that Honduras were fielding basically a second-string team. The problem with the game against Israel is that Honduras only shone in brief patches.

Luis Fernando Suarez started the game with his fringe players -- Donis Escober in goal, Osman Chavez and Luis Montes in central defence, and Juan Carlos Garcia and Brayan Beckeles in the full-back positions.

Wilson Palacios played in his favoured defensive midfield position with Roger Espinoza sitting further forward, while Marvin Chavez and Mario Martinez started on the wings, with Rony Martinez and Jerry Palacios rounding out the team up front.

At half-time, they found themselves 1-0 down thanks to a spectacular long-range effort from Israel's Eran Zahavi, for which the Honduran defence were little at fault. However, Luis Montes, a player the Honduran press raised their eyebrows about prior to being selected for the World Cup, looked clearly off the boil.

He's barely played this year due to injury, but whether he's still coming back from that injury or he's just not good enough at international level, it's hard to say. The Israel attack obviously saw him as a weakness and repeatedly pulled him out of position, often confusing his own defence.

Rather than blaming Montes himself, Hondurans are asking why the coach is playing an unfit player. Another problem in the first half was Honduras' inability to gain control of midfield against a team ranked 78th in the world. While Roger Espinoza busied himself and Marlon Chavez ran himself tirelessly on the left, Wilson Palacios and Mario Martinez were as poor as each other, with misplaced passes and being outwitted in their respective positions.

Some fans claim Wilson Palacios's best days are long gone, showing only rare glimpses of what he can do in a Honduran shirt. In Mario Martinez's case, a player once seen as Catrachos' bright young spark, fans are nearing the end of their tether with consecutive below-par performances.

When Victor Bernardez, Maynor Figueroa, Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson came on, there was a lift, with Costly making himself a nuisance to the Israel defence and Bengtson hitting the crossbar.

Espinoza, the beacon of hope in the first half, slammed a shot that smacked off the right post and looped into the net. It's what you call in Honduras, "Golazo!"

Then -- just like in the game against Turkey -- the defence fell asleep, and again, fingers were pointed at Beckeles, who let his marker run straight through him and squeeze off a shot that bounced off Figueroa and trickled into the net.

Not long after, fan favourite "Muma" Bernardez was at fault when he allowed too much time on the ball for Gil Vermouth, who slammed a long-range effort off the post, only for Omer Damari to poach the rebound as the Honduran defence napped.

For the fourth goal Honduras seemed to have already given up, with Juan Carlos Garcia allowing Vermouth too much time to smash a shot across the face of goal that Donis Escober barely moved for.

Honduran supporters finally had something to cheer about at the end of the match as star Catracho performer Espinoza crossed the ball for Costly to nod home.

Another positive that may be drawn from the match is that Luis Garrido and Boniek Garcia both made an appearance after having been struggling with injuries.

While Honduras' defensive shortcomings have been noted previously on this blog, nothing seems to have improved since the Turkish game. In fact, they seem to have worsened. What disappointed fans more was the manner of the defeat, especially in front of vocal support in Houston.

They looked weak from the off, against a team worse than any of those they'll face in the group stage. Before the two friendly games, Hondurans were excited the World Cup. Now they are accusing their team of only going along for the ride and questioning whether they really are good enough at all.

Some supporters are hearkening back to the good days with Carlos Pavon, Amado Guevara, David Suazo and "Rocky" Ramon Maradiaga. Coach Luis Suarez underlined that he's using the friendly games to try players in different positions, as many teams are, and promised a better performance against England.

Honduras usually raise their game against better teams, however many believe this could be just shooting practice for Rooney and co. Fan morale is dropping, and the supporters deserve more. Vamos a ver, we will see!