Honduras finished first in Central American qualifying to secure a spot in its 18th CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
The Catrachos are one of five teams to lift the trophy, but they have not done so since 1994. That’s not to say Honduras hasn’t experienced other successes in the competition. Six appearances in the FIFA U-20 World Cup stands as evidence that progression is always a good possibility.
Honduras was the only team in Central American qualifying that didn’t lose any of its four games, all of which were decided narrowly. A 2-2 draw with Guatemala opened the campaign, paving the way for wins over El Salvador (2-1) and Nicaragua (2-0). In the last match, Rembrandt Flores’ 78th-minute penalty equalized in a 1-1 stalemate with Panama.
Midfielder Sendel Cruz netted a team-high two goals, while five others – including Flores – struck once each.
Another positive for the Hondurans is that seven of its players competed in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Defender Dylan Andrade and midfielder Foslyn Grant (one goal in 3-1 loss v Ecuador) played every minute of the three matches. Michael Perello (goalkeeper), Denil Maldonado and Wesly Decas (defenders), Jorge Alvarez (midfielder) and Darixon Vuelto (forward) also saw action.
Vuelto, who plays for Tenerife II in Spain. Is a player to watch. The 19-year-old forward led Honduras in scoring at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship with two goals. At 15, he scored for Victoria in a Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions league match against Luis Angel Firpo.
Before the 2017 tournament starts, Honduras has lost a total of three in its last four appearances in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
Central American Qualifying Results
08.07.16 Guatemala 2, Honduras 2
10.07.16 Honduras 2, El Salvador 1
12.07.16 Nicaragua 0, Honduras 2
14.07.16 Panama 1, Honduras 1