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U.S. Game Offers Respite From Honduras' Political Turmoil

  • AP, Wednesday, October 7, 2009 4:30 PM
As two leaders struggle for control of Honduras, the country's people have dealt with months of political division, protests, and losses of foreign aid. Forced into political exile, President Manuel Zelaya has returned to asylum in Honduras' Brazilian embassy to claim his place as the rightful Honduran president amid support for his replacement, Roberto Micheletti. The volatile political situation has divided the nation.

Saturday's World Cup qualifying match, however, should provide a moment of unity and rest for the country. "Soccer is pain relief," said former national team coach Ramon Maradiago, who played for Honduras the last time it qualified for the World Cup, in 1982. "It relaxes and distracts us. It pulls us out of bad feelings." A victory over the USA would boost Honduras' chances to qualify for only its second World Cup. Honduras currently lies third in the Concacaf qualifying group, one point ahead of Costa Rica. "It will be something marvelous ... to achieve this feat and be part of it," Honduras forward Maynor Figueroa said. "I believe it will be something that will go down in the history books."

Despite suggestions that the match would be moved from Honduras because of the turmoil, FIFA ruled that the game will go on as planned at Honduras' Metropolitan Olympic Stadium, where the team is 8-0 in qualifying for next year's tournament. "That match belongs to us and we won't allow anyone to trample over us and take the game elsewhere," Honduran federation secretary Alfredo Hawit said. "We played against Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago in the same climate of political crisis and nothing happened. We are going to defend tooth and nail (our right) to play this match in our country."


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