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mail: jan@planetworldcup.com

Flashback


In this series of Flashbacks we present teams, players and happenings that people remember from the history of the World Cup.

Honduras defender Jaime Villegas giving everything in this aerial battle with a Spanish forward.

Honduran players celebrate the historic point in Valencia at full time.

 
Year
Host
'Minnow' Res
1934 Italy USA 7-1
1950 Brazil Mexico 4-0
1958 Sweden Mexico 3-0
1966 England Mexico 2-0
1970 Mexico El Salvador 4-0
1974 W.Germany Australia 3-0
1982 Spain Honduras 1-1
1986 Mexico Iraq 1-0
1990 Italy USA 1-0
1998 France S. Africa 3-0
- France S. Arabia 4-0
2002 S. Korea USA 1-1
- Japan Tunisia 2-0

This table shows how teams from the weaker confederations (Concacaf, Africa, Asia, Oceania) have feared against host nations over the years.

 
FLASHBACK ARCHIVE
Previous editions of this column

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


HONDURAN PIRATES SPOILED SPAIN'S PARTY

 

By Jan Alsos

    Few people had any special reason to highlight June 16th 1982 on the calendar before the World Cup. On paper it was only the fourth matchday of a four week long tournament and just another day for the countless millions world-wide watching the event on television. But that date turned out to be one of the most remarkable in history for football as a world game. The European champions West Germany and hosts Spain both entered the competition on this day with huge ambitions of reaching the final in Madrid a short month later. The two European powerhouses were scheduled to meet two minnows from weaker confederations without previous World Cup experience. In the afternoon match, Algeria managed to beat West Germany 2-1 and the result ranks as one of the all-time greatest upsets. TV-viewers all over the world could hardly believe what they had just witnessed. A highly competitive German team topped by Rummenigge and Breitner had come up short against African debutants. More surprises were in store for those who thought Algeria's triumph in Gijon was a one-off.

    Host nation Spain kicked-off their World Cup campaign late that same night in Valencia against Honduras. Like Algeria a few hours earlier, the Central Americans prepared themselves for their first ever World Cup appearance. Teams from the CONCACAF region had a dodgy reputation before the 1982 Mundial - much more so than Africa who won some respect in Argentina '78 with Tunisia's fine showing. FIFA's decision of doubling CONCACAF's quota of spots from one to two was met by scepticism even if the World Cup had expanded from 16 to 24 teams since 1978. That scepticism increased further after El Salvador's unbelievable 10-1 collapse against Hungary the night before.

    Honduras, who had the luxury of playing the entire final hexagonal qualifying round in their own capital, had shown little in the qualifiers that supported them being better than El Salvador. Major parts of the Spanish media predicted a massacre in the Luis Casanova Stadium (now known as Mestalla). Some people expected Spain to top Hungary's ten goals and re-write the recordbooks against Honduras. History supported their optimism. Including El Salvador's huge loss to Hungary, CONCACAF's total contribution to the World Cup post-1970 when Mexico hosted was 7 matches, 7 losses with a negative goaldifference of 5-36!

    The Spaniards were brimming with confidence. They had put together a string of very good results in friendlies against qualified nations leading up to the tournament. Undefeated since July 1981 they had also beaten England at Wembley earlier. Huge amounts of money had been spent on preparations for the national team rated 5/1 by bookmakers to win the World Cup. The host nation had won the two previous tournaments and Spain's coach José Santamaria, a World Cup winning hero himself with Uruguay in 1950, was determined to make it a hat-trick of host nation triumphs. Spain saw this meeting with Honduras as a perfect opportunity to come flying out of the blocks with a festival of goals that would fire up the enthusiasm in the country for La Selección Española.

    Both West Germany in 1974 and especially Argentina in 1978 had received fervent support from their own people. Spain's team had the same patriotic backing when they walked out on the Luis Casanova stadium in front of 50,000 people including King Juan Carlos and a sea of small flags in Spain's colours. The Hondurans, wearing all white like Valencia's rivals Real Madrid, were with one exception a team made up of amateur players from the domestic league. That one exception was defensive midfielder Gilberto Yearwood who played in Spain with Real Valladolid.

    The backbone of the Spanish team was made up of players from the league champions Real Sociedad. Captain and goalkeeper Luis Arconada was one of five players from the Basque club in Santamaria's starting line-up. Real Madrid had only two players in the team, Jose Camacho and Juanito. A big night also for 21-year old Miguel Tendillo of Valencia playing a World Cup match in his home stadium. Primera Liga's topscorer Quini of Barcelona rested his ageing legs for "more important" matches later on in the tournament.

    Kick-off was taken under enormous noise from the partisan crowd. The atmosphere was electric. Everybody waited for the first cannon to be fired towards goalkeeper Julio Cesar Arzu aimed to sink the Honduran pirate ship and their morale at the earliest possible stage. The home team clearly had the initiative in the opening minutes. A spectacular bicicleta clearance off the line by Anthony Costly after a corner prevented a Spanish goal after six minutes. Two minutes later against the run of play on the other side of the field, Hector Zelaya combined well with Prudencio Norales before neatly chipping outrushing Arconada for a sensational opening goal for Honduras. Eight minutes on the clock and goalscorer Zelaya down on his knees in amazement and joy. Coach Uccles urged concentration with hand movements from the sideline before re-start. He wanted no quick Spanish equalizer.

    Uccles could relax. Zelaya's goal completely ruined Spain's gameplan. The large world-wide TV audience witnessed how Spain struggled to penetrate the packed Honduran defence throughout the first half. Roberto Lopez-Ufarte had an effort against the post after eleven minutes and a header straight at Arzu shortly after, but Spain didn't please the spectators. The fans had seen none of the dozen goals predicted by many before the match. The impatient home crowd booed their own heroes off the field at half time. There was not going to be a new goalscoring record that night and everyone knew it. Even getting the points would be tough enough.

    Spain increased the pressure in the second half in search for that elusive equalizer. Honduras had trouble getting the ball away from their defensive third of the field and kicked the ball upfield towards lone striker Betancourt at every opportunity. Miguel Alonso had two good shots saved by Julio Cesar Arzu in the opening minutes after the interval. Arzu, who was back-up keeper throughout most of the qualifying series, had won the starting job at the eve of the finals when the former number one was dropped because of indiscipline. Arzu enjoyed the big occasion and impressed in this game.

    Spain, though, looked more and more likely to get the goal they so desperately wanted. A 61st minute corner was flicked on by Satrustegui towards the far post where substitute Saura dived in only to see his attempt hit the woodwork. Lopez-Ufarte had another good shot saved by Arzu two minutes later before the inevitable happened. Saura was clearly brought down from behind inside the penalty-area by Bulñes following a scramble between a handful of players. Penalty!

    Lopez-Ufarte converted it. 1-1 with twenty-five minutes to go. Lifted by the noisy home crowd Spain tried to keep the intense pressure up enough to get a winning goal, but Honduras had built up a strong team spirit and did not fall apart. Anthony Costly was a rock in defence and dealt with everything in the air against powerful center-forward Satrustegui. In many ways Satrustegui's inability to get a decent finish on goal throughout the game cost Spain dearly. Saura, Juanito and Lopez-Ufarte were all speedy, skillful and creative players, but none of them were clinical finishers.

    Gilberto Yearwood, the only European-based Honduran player, had a terrific second half in his defensive position in midfield ripping up the Spanish game and launching counter-attacks towards the end. Honduras played very mature after Spain's equalizer much thanks to Gilberto who took on extra responsibility at a critical time of the game. Honduras weathered the storm and could have won the game when José Figueroa's powerful 25 yard free-kick almost crept in at Arconada's near post with seven minutes to go.

    Time ran out and Honduras captured an historic point. It was the first time ever a team from a 'minor' confederation had avoided defeat against a host nation in World Cup history and it was of course celebrated big time back home in Tegucigalpa.


Epilogue:

    Honduras - like every other minnow in the 1982 finals - failed to get out of the groupstage, but won a lot of admirers for their brave performances against better prepared teams. This draw against Spain was followed up by another 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland - they too a surprise package in this tournament. Honduras lost 1-0 to Yugoslavia in the final game with the goal coming a few minutes from time on a penalty, but they brought respect to CONCACAF again and might have inspired El Salvador as well because they tightened up and lost only narrowly in their remaining games. Spain's pre-tournament confidence got a severe knock against Honduras and that result might have affected them mentally throughout the tournament. Santamaria's boys just edged past Yugoslavia in the group following a defeat to Northern Ireland, but found West Germany and England too tough to handle in phase two. With only one win in five matches on home soil, Spain's World Cup was characterized as a failure and it all started that night in Valencia when battling pirates ruined the party for cocky millionaires.



Date: June 16th 1982
Venue: Estadio Luis Casanova (att: 49,562)
City: Valencia, Spain
Referee: Arturo Ithurralde (Argentina)
  
Spain 1 (0)
Goals: Lopez-Ufarte 65(p)
Line-up: Arconada, Camacho, Gordillo, Tendillo, Alexanco, M.Alonso, J.Alonso (Sanchez), Zamora, Juanito (Saura), Satrustegui, Lopez-Ufarte.
  
Honduras 1 (1)
Goals: Zelaya 8
Line-up: Arzu, Gutierrez, Villegas, Bulñes, Costly, Maradiaga, Zelaya, Yearwood, Betancourt, Figueroa, Norales (Caballero).

More detailed matchfacts

 

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