Monday, October 26, 2009

Deliverance, Revelry in Honduras

I meant to check on this 12 days ago, when it happened. But one thing led to another, there were plane rides across oceans, things got pushed to the back of my mind ...

But now we shall get to this:

The reaction in Honduras to its semi-miraculous breakthrough to the World Cup -- for the first time since 1982.

Remember, Honduras has been troubled by civil unrest for more than a month, going back to the coup that ousted the president and his subsequent secretive return to the country and hiding out in the Brazilian embassy.

Perhaps disturbed by the national crises, Honduras's team suffered a crushing home defeat on Oct. 10 when it lost, 3-2, to the United States, missing a penalty in the process. Honduras had won its other four home matches in the final round of qualifying, and one more would have clinched one of the three Concacaf automatic berths at South Africa 2010.

To recount, this is what Honduras needed, on the final day of Concacaf qualifying, on Oct. 14:

A victory at El Salvador. Combined with an American victory or tie vs. Costa Rica.

Without some combination of that ... Honduras would finish fourth in the six-team Concacaf standings and face a difficult home-and-home playoffs with the No. 5 team from South America (Uruguay, as it turns out) for a berth.

Here is the version of events as described on

The key points: Honduras won in El Salvador, 1-0, but as the match ended Costa Rica still held on to a 2-1 lead, and all looked lost.

Then the U.S. scored in the fifth minute of extra time, barely ahead of the final whistle, the match with Costa Rica ended in a tie ... and Honduras suddenly was in the finals.

That set off wild celebrations among Honduras fans at San Salvador, among the players -- and all over the country.

The next day, Oct. 15, was declared a national holiday.

We're going to guess that the U.S. team is fairly popular in Honduras, still, for reasons that would defy easy explanation to anyone who isn't a soccer fan.
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