Honduras stunned Mexico last night with a 2-1 victory in the legendary Azteca stadium. It was only the second time Mexico lost a qualifying game at home, and placed Mexico 4th in the current CONCACAF rankings. If they remain there, they will have to compete for a slot in the World Cup in a game against New Zealand, the top-ranked team in the Oceania Federation.
With this victory, Honduras are pretty close to securing themselves a berth in the 2014 World Cup. Their road to South Africa in 2010 was a bit more dramatic. In the end, the goal that made the different was not scored by a Honduran player, but rather by Jonathan Bornstein of the US Men’s National Team, in RFK stadium, on October 14th, 2009. The tight competition within CONCACAF meant that the goal differential in the two final games (between Honduras and El Salvador on the one hand, and between the U.S. and Costa Rica) made the difference. You can see the critical goal, and hear the response of commentators, here.
Honduras had not qualified for the World Cup in 27 years, and people flooded into the streets in celebration.
It had been a long and difficult year in Honduras, where a coup overthrew the president in June 2009. And both sides in the ensuing political crisis tried to use football, and the victory of the Honduran team, to their advantage. As Joshua Nadel wrote here a few months ago, the years since that coup have been difficult ones in the country.
In nearly clinching their second trip to a World Cup, meanwhile, Honduras’ national team has also secured a reputation as one of the region’s most formidable players.