June 01, 2014

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) Looking for its first win in its third World Cup, Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez is ready to spring a surprise in Brazil.

The small Central American nation has reached consecutive World Cups for the first time in its history, and Suarez is aiming to make an impact in the team's opening Group E game against France.

''Honduras can beat France in the World Cup,'' the Colombian said. ''But we have to work hard to arrive at the game in form.''

Not much is expected of Honduras, although the team qualified above regional CONCACAF power Mexico and will be hoping to cause an upset with its direct play, strength and organization.

Suarez has been upbeat in general about his team's chances, and rightfully so. In September, Honduras became only the second team to defeat Mexico at Estadio Azteca during World Cup qualifying. The team also beat the United States and Costa Rica in qualifying.

In the Olympic quarterfinals in 2012, Honduras came close to shocking Brazil when it was leading in the second half but fell to a 3-2 loss.

Suarez does have experience in World Cups, having led Ecuador to the round of 16 in 2006, where the South American team was unlucky to go out against England.

His Honduras team is strong, athletic and difficult to break down, playing a 4-4-2 formation that seeks to cause problems for the opposition on the counterattack, and from set pieces.

Players like midfielder Wilson Palacios and defender Maynor Figueroa boast English Premier League experience, while Celtic left back Emilio Izaguirre is also a key element.

Up front, New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengston and Carlo Costly - who is now playing in Honduras - lead the line and should pose some awkwardness for the opposition in Group E.

Despite the lack of star names, Suarez is eager to make sure his players aren't going to Brazil just for the experience.

''The objective has now changed,'' Suarez said. ''In the beginning it was just to go to the World Cup. That objective is completed. Now this group has to change the qualification mindset for another that says `World Cup,' and I think the group is conscious of that.''

Honduras plays France in Porto Alegre on June 15, Ecuador on June 20 in Curitiba and then heads to Manaus in northern Brazil on June 25, where the humid conditions should suit it against Switzerland.

A victory would be historic for Honduras, which will need to be very lucky to make it out of the group stage.

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