Goal.com's Shane Evans takes a look at the other two matches in the opening matchday of the hexagonal round.
In an exciting opener to the hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the Honduran national team will travel to San Jose to take on Costa Rica in a contest of arguably the two strongest Central American teams.
The Costa Ricans are in great form in the moment, having swept the last round of qualifying, finishing with the maximum 18 points from six matches against Suriname, El Salvador and Haiti. Led by Bryan Ruiz (KAA Gent, Belgium) up front and the sturdy defense of Gaznzalo Segares (Chicago Fire, USA), the Ticos will look to continue their unbeaten run in CONCACAF play.
Visiting San Jose hasn’t been a very daunting task for Honduras of late, as they have lost only once in seven matches in Costa Rica, winning two of the seven. Finishing first in the last stage of qualifying will surely add a boost to the side, especially since they finished ahead of Mexico and Jamaica, taking four wins out of six possible matches.
The team is captained by Amada Guevara (Toronto FC, Canada), a midfielder who has made an amazing 120 appearances for his national side and will look to anchor the center of the pitch, while linking with their top player, striker David Suazo (Benfica, Portugal).
When it comes down to it, Costa Rica have the World Cup experiencing, having made the last two and three of the last five. Honduras on the other hand have missed six straight tournaments.
Goal.com Prediction: Costa Rica 2-1 Honduras
El Salvador-Trinidad & Tobago (7 p.m., Estadio Cuscatlan, San Salvador, El Salvador)
These two teams open the hexagonal round of qualifying in El Salvador at Estadio Cuscatlan. Trinidad & Tobago finished second in their group in the previous round behind the United States. El Salvador experienced a similar fate, finishing a distant second to Costa Rica who swept the group.
El Salvador’s squad is led by a glut of players from the club team C.D. Aguila, with striker Rudis Corrales and midfielder Eliseo Quintanilla being the two main players who will look to make a difference against the Soca Warriors. La Selecta is managed by the Mexican born Carlos de los Cobos, who took over in August. According to him, his game plan revolves around one player.
"When it comes to football in El Salvador there's Eliseo Quintanilla and then there's the rest," De los Cobos said in an interview with CONCACAF’s website. "When he's in the side he knows he's the one who has to dictate play."
On the other side of the pitch, Trinidad & Tobago will have to rely on their veteran presence in the squad, particularly that of all-time leading scorer Stern John, who plays his club football in England. Partnered with promising striker Kenwyne Jones (Sunderland, England), John will be sure to cause problems for El Salvador’s back line.
The key man for the Soca Warriors will be and has been for the better part of twenty years been their talismanic captain Dwight Yorke, who’s return to the international stage has given the team a much needed boost. His veteran leadership and inspirational play well be a big factor in this match.
The last three matches in this series have favored Trinidad & Tobago with two wins going to Yorke and his teammates, while the other ended as a draw.
Goal.com Prediction: El Salvador 0-1 Trinidad & Tobago
Shane Evans, Goal.com