Figueroa wants to write new chapter

14 May 2010 10:26
Unrealistic expectation weighs heavy on Honduras as they prepare for only the country's second World Cup appearance and first for 28 years.[LNB] The Central Americans nervously sneaked through qualifying as a defeat to the USA in their penultimate match meant their destiny was no longer in their hands.[LNB]But they beat El Salvador and were eternally grateful to the Americans when they secured a draw against Costa Rica with a late equaliser.[LNB]That gave them a chance to follow in the footsteps of the team of 1982, who travelled to the tournament in Spain and acquitted themselves well with a draw against the hosts.[LNB]Coincidence pits them against the same opposition again - as well as Chile and Switzerland - only this time the Spanish are European champions and one of the major favourites to win.[LNB]Defender Maynor Figueroa insists they are outsiders in that group but the squad are keen to at least emulate the achievements of their predecessors.[LNB]"We were getting tired of hearing the same old story over and over again for 27 years," said the left-back.[LNB]"It was getting to us. But in reaching the second finals in the country's history, we haven't changed the story so much as added a new chapter to it.[LNB]"We have our own style, which works, and we're not going to change now.[LNB]"There are some very good sides and if there's a minnow in the group, then it's Honduras.[LNB]"But I'd just like to point out, though, that it's often the supposedly little teams who cause the most problems for the big ones.[LNB]"It's a privilege for us to take on the favourites for the World Cup, the best team in the world.[LNB]"Maybe there are some teams out there who would prefer to avoid them, but not us.[LNB]"Playing them will give us a good indication of whether we can go on and achieve bigger things.[LNB]"Nobody prepares just to lose. We want to win and we'll fight to the death to achieve it."[LNB]Figueroa knows plenty about the underdog role playing for Wigan in the Premier League.[LNB]Unspectacular but solid and dependable, the 27-year-old Figueroa has carved out something of a reputation for himself in England.[LNB]He arrived as a complete unknown from Deportivo Olimpia initially on loan but quickly earned a permanent contract from then manager Steve Bruce.[LNB]Virtually an ever-present at Wigan, within a year he was being linked with a big-money move to Sunderland, where Bruce had moved to in the summer of 2009.[LNB]However, he turned down the chance to leave by signing a new deal with the Latics, where he feels settled.[LNB]"Maynor has been outstanding all season. He's a top professional, undoubtedly one of the best I have worked with in my time in the game," said current Wigan boss Roberto Martinez.[LNB]"We know we're not going to be able to keep him forever but until then we'll keep enjoying the quality of his defending and the quality of his free-kicks."[LNB]What made Honduras' qualification all the more important was that it helped bring some common ground to a country being torn apart by political turmoil.[LNB]Even though Figueroa has found a new base in England, it did not mean he was detached from what was happening in his homeland.[LNB]"We had even more responsibility on us [to qualify] because it was the only source of happiness for the Honduran people at what was a very difficult time," he added.[LNB]"Luckily we made it and it helped people take their minds off what was going on."[LNB]This season Figueroa has been joined by international and former Olimpia team-mate Hendry Thomas, the combative central midfielder.[LNB]The 25-year-old has maybe not yet established himself as well as Figueroa but has had a good debut season and believes playing in English football can only help his international ambitions.[LNB]"The game is much faster here and I struggled with that at first," he admitted.[LNB]"I've got used to the way they play here though and I feel great now."[LNB]He has certainly impressed his Spanish manager, who added: "He's a kid who has come on really well.[LNB]"I can honestly see him succeeding at a big team in Europe. He has a lot of qualities."[LNB]But despite of talk of bigger, brighter futures for both Figueroa and Thomas their focus, for now, is firmly on South Africa.[LNB]"We need to take each game as it comes," said Thomas.[LNB]"We don't want to go and try and win the second match before we've even played the first."

Source: Team_Talk