Pinto looks for more Honduras progress at Gold Cup

Honduras head coach Jorge Luis Pinto (pictured) answers questions during a CONCACAF Gold Cup media event on March 7, 2017, in Santa Clara, California, USA. (Photo: Howard Smith/isiphotos.com)

SANTA CLARA, California – In Central America, the Honduras-Costa Rica rivalry has evolved into the region’s fiercest.

They have split the last four Copa Centroamericana titles and have made two appearances each over the course of the last three World Cups.

One of the intriguing variables added into the current version of the series is that Honduras head coach Jorge Luis Pinto was previously in charge of Costa Rica.

That’s why he was excited about the prospect of a meeting between the sides in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 7 in Harrison, New Jersey.

“The rivalry is on the field of play,” said Pinto, after Tuesday’s Gold Cup media event at Levi’s Stadium. “Costa Rica is a good team, but Honduras is also a good team. They know how I work and that I give everything like I did for them.”

Two years ago, the Hondurans didn’t progress past the Gold Cup group stage for the first time since 2003. There has been plenty of good news recently for the national team program, however.

The Catrachos finished fourth in the 2014 Olympic Games, won the 2017 Copa Centroamerica, captured the runner-up spot in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and currently sit fourth in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Pinto is happy with the development of football in Honduras and its recent successes.

“That Honduras continues progressing,” said the 64-year-old Colombian, when asked what can be expected from his squad at the Gold Cup. “It will be a mix of young players that finished fourth at the Olympics with the group that won the UNCAF (Copa Centroamericana). We continue improving and it will be an experienced group, but we have changed.

“We are progressing and in this Gold Cup that is going to be our plan.”

A plan that has already yielded trophies and honors for Honduras.