From households to businesses and even places of worship, the celebration has continued for more than a month now. Fans of Honduras’ national soccer team remain in a festive mood thanks to the squad securing a 2014 World Cup bid.
On Saturday night, the celebration transcended to a more elaborate setting. And for South Florida’s Honduran community, it was also an occasion to praise Los Catrachos for their achievement.
Honduras played world power Brazil at Sun Life Stadium. Brazil’s 5-0 win didn’t dampen the Honduras fans who appeared to evenly match the Brazil faithful in the announced crowd of 71,124. The turnout was the highest for a soccer match at Sun Life Stadium.
The Central American country has secured two consecutive World Cup berths and is firmly entrenched as a top-tier squad in the CONCACAF hierarchy.
“I won’t change how I think — I still believe in the quality of Honduran football,” national team coach Luis Fernando Suarez said. “We will forget about this quickly and continue to evaluate in our preparation for the World Cup.”
Honduras played Brazil at a relatively even pace until the five-time World Cup champions erupted for four second-half goals.
Brazil led at halftime 1-0 on Bernard’s goal in the 22nd minute. Honduras was still within distance even after Dante’s goal 10 minutes into the second half. But Brazil broke the game open with goals from Maicon, Willian and Hulk in the 65th, 69th and 73rd minutes.
“In the first half, we showed more effort and determination,” Suarez said. “In the second half, you saw a Brazil side that elevated its game while we didn’t.
“Brazil made it very difficult for us.”
Defender Emilio Izaguirre had one of Honduras’ few scoring opportunities of the match when his shot sailed above the crossbar in the 61st minute. Like Suarez, Izaguirre believes Honduras will overcome Saturday’s loss.
“This is a match that we will learn as we continue our preparation for the World Cup,” Izaguirre said. “We just have to keep our heads up and continue to work hard.
“We went through a challenging phase for seven months during qualifiers. For us, this is just the beginning of a new phase.”
Nonetheless, Izaguirre envisioned a tighter match.
“A couple of the goals were gifts, and that’s what made it so frustrating,” Izaguirre said. “Those were lapses in the match. In other occasions, we demonstrated that we have a formidable side.”
For Izaguirre, the environment at Sun Life Stadium energized the team.
“Many of us are accustomed to large crowds playing in Europe,” said Izaguirre, a three-year member of Celtic in the Scottish Premier League. “But it was also motivating to see it here.”
Honduras defender Victor Bernardez also looks forward to the team’s preparations beyond Saturday’s match.
“As far as I am concerned, the World Cup already started for us,” Bernardez said. “All of us know we didn’t play a good second half. Football is like that, but as long as you are hungry to continue to do better, you will be able to move forward.
“The loss hurt. We talked about it in the locker room. What we discussed will stay in the locker room.”
Honduras will have a short turnaround time between matches with a another exhibition against Ecuador on Tuesday in Houston.