Posted on September 4, 2012
By Michael Lewis
Honduran international midfielder Roger Espinoza will not play for Los Catrachos when they visit Cuba on Friday.
The Sporting Kansas City midfielder will be forced to miss that Group C encounter as he sits out a red card that he incurred during the recent Summer Olympics in London.
Espinoza was red-carded in the 90th minute of the Honduran’s 3-2 quarterfinal defeat to eventual silver medalists Brazil in Newcastle, England. He told TropiGol.com that he had to sit out the World Cup game due to the red card.
“You know, I’m kind of bummed about it, but it is what it is,” Espinoza said in a recent telephone interview. “But I will be ready for the second game.”
During the Olympics, Espinoza was one of Honduras’ best players, which he demonstrated by playing end-to-end soccer in that Brazil match. Espinoza set up the first goal and scored the second before playing with 10 men took its toll on the Central American side.
As he walked off the field, the St. James’ Park crowd gave Espinoza a standing ovation in recognition of the superb game he played.
Given that third-place Honduras (0-1-1, one point) will play a unique home-and-away series with last-place Cuba (0-2-0, none), Espinoza said that earning six points in those two encounters was vital to the team’s survival in qualifying. The top two teams in each semifinal group will qualify for next year’s hexagonal.
“Those six points are crucial,” Espinoza said. “We’re going to worry about the first game first and then the second game. That definitely could mean us going through or not.”
The Hondurans will host the Cubans on Sept. 11.
Espinoza will be gunning for six points.
“I’m sure it is for everybody on the Honduran National Team,” he said. “We have to because of the situation we’re in. We’re in third place with one point. It makes it a lot tough for us. We have to win those games. If not, it will be very tough for us to go through. . . . It is very crucial for us to get those six points.
The home-and-away series are believed to be a CONCACAF first in WCQ.
“It’s going to be something weird I haven’t seen,” Espinoza said. “You don’t see [that] too much, only when you’re in the playoffs here. Hopefully everything goes well and smooth because it’s little bit funny. You have to go right away back to your country and play the same team. We need to be calm and get the three points over there and don’t go crazy and just go back home and do the same. And just wait for the results of the other game and see how they go.”
The Hondurans will close out the semifinal round with a game in Panama on Oct. 12 and hosting Canada four days later.
Photo: Roger Espinoza will be eligible to play for Honduras against Cuba on Sept. 11. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: Central America, Cuba, Honduras, World Cup Qualifying
Tags: 2012 London Olympics, Roger Espinoza, Sporting Kansas City