(Reuters) - Honduras must be rock solid at the back when they face Australia in the first leg of their World Cup playoff next week and the Central American side is counting on a raucous home crowd lifting them to victory, says defender Henry Figueroa.
Honduras finished fourth in the North and Central America and Caribbean region (CONCACAF) thanks to a last-day win over Mexico and a slip up from the United States.
The result took them into a playoff spot against the Socceroos, who edged out Syria in an Asian zone playoff.
Honduras play the home leg in San Pedro Sula on Nov. 10 before travelling to Sydney for the return five days later.
“The first game is here and we hope to start with a bang,” Figueroa told the Diez newspaper. “The objective is to close up at the back. We have to be respected at home.
“We have asked the fans to get behind us because this is our last chance, there’s no margin for error.”
Honduras had the joint worst defensive record in CONCACAF’s final stage, conceding 19 goals in 10 games, and Figueroa said coach Jorge Luis Pinto has focused on tightening up at the back.
“Australia have players that are match winners and we will have our work cut out to stop them,” he said. “We are confident that we’ll be much better.”
Figueroa singled out Celtic’s Tom Rogic for special attention after seeing him make a substitute appearance for the Scottish champions against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
“We were watching the Australian that plays for Celtic yesterday and he looks like a good player,” he said.
“We know we are playing a team that is of the highest level,” the 32-times capped defender added. “We are going to work hard as usual and we hope to deal them a blow on Nov. 10.”
Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford