BARINAS, Venezuela – Initial reactions to Honduras’ play in a 2-1 loss at Venezuela in an international friendly on Wednesday were decidedly positive. Many of the specific defensive issues that troubled the Catrachos in a 3-2 loss to the same team last week were not nearly as evident.
The clear level of improvement – in head coach Jorge Luis Pinto’s second game at the helm – is a positive sign ahead of next month’s two-leg playoff series against French Guiana that will decide the last berth in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"I liked the drive with eleven on the field and also with ten," said Pinto. "I am not happy to lose. But, yes, satisfied by what we did because I told the group that we worked on some concerns.”
Unlike their encounter on February 4, when Venezuela jumped out to a three-goal lead en route to a 3-2 win, Honduras went ahead early on the road through Antony Lozano. The host ultimately rallied for another victory, striking once in each half, while benefitting from the Central Americans’ misfortune of losing Jorge Claros to a 32nd minute ejection.
Miscommunication between defender Johnny Leveron and goalkeeper Noel Valladares in the 57th minute resulted in Jhon Murillo chesting home the game-winning goal from two-yards out. Pinto acknowledged the slip-up, but did not think that it detracted from the overall performance.
“We had a serious error on the second goal that made it easier for Venezuela,” the 61-year-old Colombian concluded. “I believe that the two matches were hard-fought, aggressive. I feel that we managed to possess the ball despite playing with ten men,” concluded Pinto.
In the two-game series with Venezuela, Pinto observed 23 players as he builds a squad for the Gold Cup and beyond. Lozano, who is Olimpia’s top scorer in the current Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League with four goals, made an encouraging impression by netting in each outing.