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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers Preview: Mexico, Honduras continue battle for third

Mexico and Honduras meet at the Azteca Stadium on Friday in a match that will have huge implications for the CONCACAF qualifying group.

With the top three nations in the group guaranteed a place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Mexico are currently in pole position to secure third spot.

Honduras, who sit fourth, are a point behind Mexico but a win for Jose Manuel de la Torre’s men would give them breathing space in their bid to qualify automatically for their sixth World Cup in a row.

Luis Fernando Suarez’s side drew 2-2 with Mexico in the reverse fixture in March but Honduras goalkeeper Donis Escobar believes that his team-mates can go one better this time and leapfrog their opponents in the standings.

“There are a lot of experts who are going against us, but with a team fully focused, there are no obstacles,” he told the official CONCACAF website.

“There is nothing impossible. It can be against the fans, the altitude, or that they are strong at home, there is nothing easy.

“The mindset that we have is that we come into this game mentally strong and we’ll take to the field 100 per cent sure that things are going to go well.

“The mindset that we have is if we can achieve and earn four points (from the next two qualifiers), that would put us on the doorstep of qualifying.”

Defeat for Mexico, who have drawn five of their six qualifiers so far, with four of those ending 0-0, would mean that Honduras jump above them, while also handing Panama the chance to move into fourth.

The fourth-placed team at the end of the group will meet Oceania winners New Zealand in a two-legged play-off, with the winners heading to Brazil.

Panama, who reached the final of the Gold Cup in July, are without a win in three qualifiers but will be favourites to pick up maximum points against bottom side Jamaica.

One of Jamaica’s two points in the campaign came from their 1-1 draw with Julio Dely Valdes’ side and Panama will need to improve on their recent form if they are to pick up the win, having failed to score in their last three qualifiers.

Friday’s other clash sees first face second, as Gold Cup champions USA travel to Costa Rica looking to make it three wins in a row.

The US have dropped points just twice in the group so far but Costa Rica have been almost as impressive, going on a four-game unbeaten run since losing to Jurgen Klinsmann’s side in March.

Klinsmann could be without Jozy Altidore, who missed club side Sunderland’s Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace with a hamstring injury.

The 23-year-old has scored three of his country’s last five goals in qualifying and will be assessed prior to the match.

Tue 3 September, 2013
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