|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.
shows how teams from the weaker confederations (Concacaf, Africa, Asia,
Oceania) have feared against host nations over the years.
HONDURAN PIRATES SPOILED SPAIN'S PARTY
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
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
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.
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
|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,
|Honduras 1 (1)
|Goals: Zelaya 8
|Line-up: Arzu, Gutierrez, Villegas,
Bulñes, Costly, Maradiaga, Zelaya, Yearwood, Betancourt, Figueroa, Norales (Caballero).
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