(Reuters) - Honduras’ World Cup playoff against Australia will be “one of the most important games of our lives” and the Central American side believe their hopes of reaching Russia depend on a first leg win at home this weekend, winger Romell Quioto told Reuters.
Honduras finished in fourth in the CONCACAF region of North and Central America and the Caribbean thanks to a last-day win over Mexico and will meet Australia at home on Nov. 10, before heading down under for the second-leg five days later.
The Central Americans have struggled recently, with just three wins in their last 16 matches, and Quioto admits they will need to produce their best form to qualify for next year’s tournament.
“I think it is one of the most important games of our lives,” he told Reuters. “It is the chance to go to the World Cup finals. We are going to give it everything.”
Quioto and his team mates have all stressed they need to take a decent result to Australia, whose only losses at home this year were to Brazil and Germany.
Honduras have recalled veteran striker Carlos Costly in the hope he can add to his tally of 32 goals in 75 international appearances and they were boosted earlier in the week with the inclusion of Eddie Hernandez, who is recovering quicker than expected from a cheek fracture.
Both sides have suspensions, with Honduras missing captain Maynor Figueroa and forward Alberth Elis for the first leg.
Australia, meanwhile, are sweating on the availability of veteran forward Tim Cahill, who flew to Honduras with his physio, in the hope of working his injured ankle into match readiness.
The Socceroos will also be without VfL Bochum striker Robbie Kruse, who has a knee injury, and Mark Milligan and Mathew Leckie are both suspended.
They can, however, count on ample playoff experience, most memorably in 2005, when they defeated two-time World Cup winners Uruguay.
This time they have the added disadvantage in having to make two very long trips and coach Ange Postecoglou said securing a result in Honduras will be crucial if their tired legs are to carry them to Russia.
“They know they’re going to have to get something out of that first game,” Postecoglou said.
“Because coming back here, whilst our players are quite experienced at travelling long haul and the effect it has on performance and mindset, they’re going to have to deal with that.”
Additional reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Christian Radnedge