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Doubts for the Honduras National Team


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Doubts in Honduras after Bora's departure

Despite their side comfortably progressing to the group stages of the CONCACAF qualifiers for Germany 2006, Honduran football is far from content. The abrupt departure of former coach Bora Milutinovic - just as he was beginning to win over the fans - has left a dark cloud hanging over the future of the national side.

The timing of the Serbian-born coach's resignation came as a particular surprise to Hondurans who had just witnessed their much improved national side beat the Netherlands Antilles 6-1 in a two-legged regional qualifier for Germany 2006. "The players performed notably. We have a very talented squad here, which is why I think we have a great future in these qualifiers," said Milutinovic, after the return leg. Ten days later, he would sing a very different tune.

Bad Atmosphere

The fact that Milutinovic had previously led five different teams to the finals of a FIFA World Cup™ counted for little in Honduras, where it seemed the Serb was embroiled in controversy almost from the first day. "Nowhere is the world have I been treated as badly as I have been here. Yes, there have always been demands put on me. Yes, there have always been people who criticised me or called me a bad coach, which was their right. But nowhere have I been treated like some kind of criminal, as I was here," the Serb lamented after resigning.

Some sections of the media gave Milutinovic a torrid time while at the helm, accusing him of earning between "US$35,000 and $75,000 a month" but "spending very little time preparing the team". In the face of such pressure, the coach who led China to Korea/Japan 2002 retorted: "all this talk about my salary and they still haven't even got their facts right. There were so many things said about me that it just became a miserable existence. I don't think anyone needs that sort of thing."

In terms of his side's performance, the former manager had to face a barrage of criticism after winning just one of the nine friendlies in the run-up to the regional qualifiers. In spite of that, the mood had begun to improve after Honduras successfully negotiated their first qualifying round and earned a place alongside Canada, Guatemala and Costa Rica in the group stages.

"A very complicated situation"

The President of Fedefut, Rafael Callejas, was swift to take action after the news broke. He immediately appointed Raúl Martínez Sambulá and Juan Carlos Espinoza as caretaker mangers given the proximity of the next round of FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers. The appointment raised eyebrows in the local media, who expressed doubts about the pair's experience.

"We accept that this has given rise to a very complicated situation in terms of the management of the team, but we have to stay positive and keep the faith. I would say to the fans that we can still qualify for Germany 2006, we have what it takes," said the Preisdent, attempting to calm worried Hondurans. He also offered his advice for the future: " Let's forget about the detractors who are not behind us and only get in our way. Let's build our own future."

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The players and managers in Honduras expressed mixed opinions on the whole affair. Julio de León, currently on the books of Italian side Reggina, called the situation " a shame, but understandable given that Bora was a successful professional who refused to tolerate the questioning of his judgement and integrity before he had a chance to prove himself". Junior Izaguirre, from local side Motagua, shared the sentiment: "This is a big step backwards, especially with the next qualifying phase just around the corner. We had a good, all-encompassing process in place."

Meanwhile, José Herrera Uclés, the manager who led Honduras to the 1982 FIFA World Cup Spain™, felt that Milutinovic's departure should have come a lot sooner: "Why now after the team has just won through to the next qualifying round?" He also accused the Serbian of being "cowardly" and said he left because he had never managed to beat Costa Rica.

Honduras kick off their group qualifiers on 18 August against Costa Rica, who also recently parted company with their manager, the American Steve Sampson.


Interesting to see that Honduras are having major problems with their national squad, this can only be good news for the Canadian MNT!

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Oops sorry about that! I have been following the national team for quite some time and I've also been following this board for a year now :)

It's just hit me! I want to be a voyageur, I love Canadian soccer with a passion... how do I become a voyageur though? Anyone? :)


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