Lesser-known Luis Suarez hoping Honduras can make a name for themselves

Colombian manager set to face former charges from Ecuador in Curitiba

Honduras midfielder Roger Espinoza  controls the ball during their international friendly  against Israel at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. Photograph: Aaron M. Sprecher / EPA

Honduras midfielder Roger Espinoza controls the ball during their international friendly against Israel at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. Photograph: Aaron M. Sprecher / EPA

 

There will be more than one Luis Suarez at the World Cup in Brazil and while the Uruguayan superstar may be targetting glory in the final, his Colombian namesake is hoping for more modest success as coach of Honduras.

Luis Fernando Suarez is not a household name but he has enjoyed World Cup success of his own, when leading Ecuador to a 2-0 win over Poland in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Now coaching Honduras, the question is how his first game at the World Cup in Brazil will measure up to that milestone. His knowledge of Ecuador could help.

“I must have had about four or five of their current squad when I was there so I do know something about them. But there is no real advantage in playing against another Latin American team. What might help us more is playing in Manaus against Switzerland as it will be hotter and more humid than playing France in Porto Alegre which will be cold. But in the end, our ambition is to improve on what Honduras has done in the World Cup before.

“Our challenge is to get into the next round.”

The Colombian player-turned-coach will take on France in Honduras’s first Group E match in Porto Alegre, followed by a second match against Ecuador in Curitiba.

After the draw in December landed Honduras in a tough Group E, which also includes Switzerland, Suarez called the section “evenly matched”, adding: “There are going to be good possibilities for everyone”.

The only thing that gave him pause, he said, was having to play against his old team Ecuador, who made it to the round of 16 for the first time under his leadership in 2006. They subsequently lost to England.

Suarez was supposed to coach Ecuador for the 2010 World Cup but lost the job after defeats in the qualifiers. Ecuador did not make it to South Africa. Yet the experience with Ecuador and his connection with other coaches in Germany were crucial building blocks to a career that received a big early boost from the Colombian star manager Francisco Maturana.

Suarez calls Maturana’s advice “gold dust” and says he is like a father to him. The 54-year-old coach feels the responsibility to show that Honduras - a country he says is “growing, soccer-wise” - can deliver in its third trip to the World Cup finals, after weak showings in 1982 and 2010.

They are still looking for their first win in the finals after three draws and three defeats in the six matches they have played. Their chance could come in Brazil, however, because the squad now boasts a number of players with top level experience in Europe.

After he became manager in 2011, Suarez went about refreshing the line-up and worked with the under-23 squad that qualified for the 2012 Olympics, beat Spain 1-0 and made it to the quarter-finals, where they lost to Brazil 3-2.

Reaching the last eight in the World Cup looks beyond them, but success is relative in the showpiece event, and what might mean failure for the Uruguayan Luis Suarez, could well represent a career high for the man with the same name in charge of Honduras.

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