Alexis Sanchez could be the star of Group H
Honduras vs Chile, Group H, Nelspruit, Wednesday 16 June
No David Suazo and no Carlos Costly leaves the attacking burden on the legs of veteran Carlos Pavon. Attacking midfielder Julio Cesar de Leon was also ruled out by a muscle injury.
The other big name Wilson Palacios is expected to recover in time for the match from a thigh injury which should be a huge boost to Reinaldo Rueda's injury depleted team.
They will go up against a well disciplined Chilean team coached by Marcelo "Loco" Bielsa who insists that Humberto Suazo, the heavy set Real Zaragoza marksman will be back from his injury.
Bielsa also has in his ranks, El Nino Maravilla aka Alexis Sanchez now at Udinese who burst through in the U20 ranks to become a national star. Then there is Mark Gonzales, formerly of Liverpool whose devastating left foot was put to good use in a recent CSKA Moscow Champions League match against Sevilla.
Honduras needed the Jonathan Bornstein Good Samaritan Act to get through to the World Cup while Chile steamed in majestically at the expense of Argentina and Uruguay who had to huff and puff to get there.
The expectations are high for the Andean team in its 7th World Cup appearance. 32 goals scored in qualifying, one less than top scoring Brazil is the outcome of a well distributed attack.
Ivan Zamorano, of Real Madrid fame and a national legend shares this optimism:
" We've got a great team - never better in my opinion - a great coach who has stamped his philosophy on the side, and the complete commitment of the players. You can see all that out on the pitch. They've been playing well and getting good results and I've never been more certain that we can have a great World Cup."
Coach Bielsa is desirous of exorcising the bad memories of the 2002 World Cup, when under his tutelage, the Albiceleste crashed out in the group stage itself.
" I think we have done all the necessary steps to prepare for this important competition without major difficulty, or just the normal difficulties at least. We are fine and we are ready to begin."
Chile run a 3-3-1-3 with Matias Fernandez as their attacking central midfielder just behind Gonzalez, Suazo, and Sanchez. Bielsa has built the attack around speedy wing play.
Look for an quick paced game with Alexis Sanchez posing all sorts of problems for the Honduran defense. We should also see quite a few goals in a welcome change.