By DAN KARELL
The CONCACAF region plays host to two of the biggest World Cup qualifiers on Friday, as Honduras hosts Mexico and Jamaica hosts Panama.
The Hondurans come into the match on a high after beating the United States in the last round and currently sit atop the Hexagonal standings. However, things can change if Mexico finds a way to win at the Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula on Friday afternoon.
The Javier Hernandez-led team stuttered out of the gate, playing to a scoreless draw at home against an energetic Jamaican side. Now returning home, Jamaica looks to go top of the table if they can defeat the visiting Panamanians.
Jamaica, using home field to their advantage, will definitely rely on MLS stars Donovan Ricketts, Ryan Johnson, and JeVaughn Watson to defeat a solid Panamanian side looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever.
While Jamaica will use their North American based stars, Mexico will certainly rely on Dos Santos, Hernandez, and Andres Guardado, all plying their trade in Europe, to step up for their nation. Mexico’s form was deadly in the third round of World Cup qualification, winning all six games and scoring 15 goals. Winning on the road against Costa Rica and El Salvador, two of the better Central American sides, should give El Tri the confidence to take on Honduras.
The Hondurans, as the U.S. learned, are not a team to be taken lightly. Having proven forwards Jerry Bengtson and Carlo Costly in the lineup will force the Mexican back line to work their tails off, while Roger Espinoza and Oscar Boniak Garcia will look to control play from the middle. What makes this match even more important is that with a win, Honduras will still be atop the table on six points, a full five ahead of the big power that is Mexico.
Nevertheless, Panama may want a Honduras win on Friday so that come Tuesday, when they host the Hondurans, they can catch Los Catrachos off guard. Blas Perez and Gabrial Gomez are two experienced players for Los Canaleros, or the Canal Men, and they will always rely on Felipe Baloy in the back, a man that U.S. fans will remember too much of from the last Gold Cup.
What match are you looking forward to? Do you see Mexico taking care of business in Honduras? Do you think Panama could take points from Jamaica?
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