Thursday, May 14, 2009

The State of Honduras

I am a big fan of the World Cup however it comes every 4 years. Since I am a yank fan the Gold Cup kind of help me get through the 4 years. I wish the Gold Cup was a little more interesting so I started examining the other nations. Most CONCACAF nations are extreamly poor compared to the states. This limits their abality to compete against yanks, Mexico and Costa Rica. However nations can still turn out good teams and I wanted to know why some can and why some can not.
Here is my Honduras report....
Honduras has a population at about 7.79 Million people the second largest in Central America. The Capitol is Tegucigalpa located in the middle of the country. The Choluteca river physically separates Tegucigalpa and its sister city Comayag├╝ela. This is similar to Boston and Cambridge that is separated by the Charles River.
Despite this they have a very good football federation on the domestic and national level. Honduras made one World Cup in 1982 Spain. This was their high water mark for international soccer success. A recent high point was the 2001 Copa America Cup. They beat Bolivia and Uruguay in group play and beating Brazil in quarter Final. They placed in 3rd place in the Copa America 2001. Their international Championships success was 2 Nations Cup Championship coming back to back in 1993 and 1995.
Honduras, while a very poor country defies the odds, has a tremendous soccer Federation. The highest league Liga National of Honduras has 10 powerful teams. This league has relegation to a second tier league which has 24 teams currently. The second tier team also has regulation to a 3rd tier league that has over 60 more teams competing. This country has the deepest league with relegation within CONCACAF (except Mexico) and this translates to a good National Team. The winner of Liga each season is considered the highest honor and each winner gets to participate in the CONCACAF Champions League. There are 4 teams we hear about in Honduras. Olimpia and Montagua both play in the largest City and Capitol, Tegucigalpa. They both also share Estadio Tuburcio Carias Andino which has 36,000 fans for capacity. Olimpia is the Titan of the Honduras Soccer leagues with 21 Championships almost twice as many as the next. Their inner city rival (Montagua) has 11 Titles. Their chief rivals (Real Espana and Marathon) play in the city of San Pedro. San Pedro is located in the upper northeast area of the country and is considered the industrial capitol of the country. This City is the only city in Honduras to have 3 soccer stadiums. Marathon 7 Titles plays in their own Marathon Stadium that holds 10,000. Marathon stadium is brand new in 2009 and is the only club built stadium in Honduras. Their inner city rival Real Espana (9 Titles) plays in Estadio Maralles that holds 20,000 spectators.
Estadio Olympico the largest stadium in Honduras and it holds 45,000. This stadium was only built in 1997 for the Central American Olympic Games. This is the training facility and the location where the national team plays. Marathon will occasionally use this large stadium for big games.
These inner and intra city rivalries have raised the passion and interest in the game in Honduras. It is like what the Boston Celtics vs. LA Lakers did for Basketball in the states.

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