2010 World Cup Squads – Honduras and North Korea
Los Catrachos have qualified for their first finals in 28 years and are looking to be one of the surprise packages of the tournament, something you would not rule out. The squad is a superficially strong one, with several very talented players and plenty of international experience, with 7 players at 50 caps or more for their country. Captain Amado Guevara has 133 caps, whilst much-travelled striker Carlos Pavon is likely to hit 100 caps before the tournament starts. 3 members of the squad – Maynor Figueroa, Wilson Palacios and Hendry Thomas – play in the English Premiership, while Edgar Alvarez, Julio Cesar de Leon and David Suazo play in the top 2 Italian leagues. Most of the squad remains home-based, though.
If there is one potential fault, it is a lack of strength in depth. The team does have some very talented players who are key to their fortunes, but beneath that, the numerous inexperienced home-based players that fill out the squad may not be as good. They are an unknown quantity. The loss of striker Carlo Costly to injury could prove crucial. Thatkey players Guevara and Pavon are into their mid-30s also does not help in a tournament. There is a fine line for Honduras between what would be a surprise qualification for Round 2 and getting decimated by their more experienced rivals. They are a dark horse for progression, but I’d put them at the quarter-finals at best. Compare them to the previous efforts fellow Central Americans Costa Rica.
Oscar Boniek Garcia
Amado Guevara (captain)
Julio Cesar de Leon
The DPRK are even more of an unknown quantity than Honduras, with only 3 of the squad’s members playing outside the country. 2 play in the J-League – midfielder Ahn Young-Hak of Omiya Ardija and forward Jong Tae-Se of Kawasaki Frontale, the latter dubbed (and I hate to jump on a bandwagon) “the Asian Wayne Rooney”. A 3rd, Vegalta Sendai’s Ryang Yong-Gi, didn’t register in time to be included in the initial squad list but his club are “confident” it can be sorted in time. The other foreign-based player is FC Rostov’s Hong Yong-Jo, another forward and the side’s captain.
In qualifying, they looked solid enough, just edging perennial qualifiers Saudi Arabia on goal difference after a draw with them in the last game in Riyadh. But AFC qualifying is a totally different issue to the World Cup finals, especially when you’re drawn with Brazil, Portugal and the Ivory Coast. But we should not forget what happened the last time they qualified, when Pak Do-Ik scored the goal that knocked Italy out of the 1966 tournament, and they came very close to reaching the quarter-finals until Eusebio inspired a Portuguese fightback to reverse a 3-0 deficit to a 5-3 win. However, that was 44 years ago – football has changed a lot since then. Most punters would have their money on the DPRK faring no better than China 8 years ago: also drawn in Brazil’s group, their record of 3 defeats, no goals scored and 9 conceded speaks for itself.
Pak Nam-Chol (b. 1988)
Pak Nam-Chol (b. 1985)
Hong Yong-Jo (captain)