MIAMI, Florida – On Monday, September 28, Concacaf will conduct the Draw for the 2021 Gold Cup in which 16 teams will look to win Concacaf’s most prestigious national team tournament.
Serving as the Draw Assistant will be legendary Honduran international Wilson Palacios, who participated in three different editions of the Gold Cup (2005, 2007, 2011).
Wilson is happy to be associated with an event that he greatly admires and is looking forward to seeing how the Draw unfolds.
“I’m very happy because Concacaf has asked me to participate in this Gold Cup Draw and hopefully everything goes well in the Draw,” said Palacios in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“The Gold Cup means a lot because it is the competition of the confederation and for Honduras it means a lot. Honduras always tries to win it. We know that it is very difficult because there are strong national teams right now and every nation in Concacaf wants to win the Gold Cup,” added Palacios.
Honduras has not reached the Final of the Gold Cup since the inaugural edition in 1991, including three straight semifinal finishes in 2009, 2011 and 2013. Yet Palacios believes that the current Honduras team under Head Coach Fabian Coito has the quality to earn a first ever Gold Cup crown.
“I think we have to push through that barrier of the semifinals and hopefully in this Gold Cup, Honduras reaches the Final and wins it. I think Honduras under Coach Coito is evolving. At first, when he arrived it was tough, but now he is gaining more experience and knows what kind of players he has. I think for this Gold Cup and for World Cup Qualifying, things will go well for Coito,” said Palacios.
Palacios himself had the opportunity to play in three Gold Cups, with one of his fondest memories coming in the 2011 tournament when Honduras defeated Central American rivals Costa Rica.
“I have a great memory from the 2011 Gold Cup when we played against Costa Rica. We eliminated them in the quarterfinals. That was a very tough match for Honduras because Costa Rica had a great team and we were able to eliminate them in a penalty shootout,” said Palacios.
For Honduran players, there is always a motivation to lock horns with the top teams in the area, in particular with Mexico, an opponent that has produced many a heated affair with the Catrachos.
“Those are Gold Cup matches that motivate you a lot because Honduras have a rivalry with Costa Rica, Mexico and the U.S. Those are the strongest teams in the region and now the teams from the Caribbean are in the mix, too, but it’s the matches against Mexico that are the spiciest.
“I remember a 2007 match against Mexico which was very exciting. In the first match I got sent off so I was not able to play against Mexico. I was in the stands when Carlo Costly scored those two beautiful goals and I felt tremendous emotion because we had beaten Mexico, who always have great teams,” said Palacios.
Upon returning from a Gold Cup or Concacaf World Cup Qualifier, Palacios was always met with questions from curious teammates.
“I was always surprised that when I would return from a national team competition and be back in my club in England that my teammates would ask me about it. They would watch my games in Concacaf and would say, ‘Hey, Honduras, Mexico, United States, you all have good teams, it’s a strong competition.’ And I would tell them that it was strong. To qualify for a World Cup you have to play with an edge because the competition is so strong.”
Palacios also took a moment to reflect on the generation of Honduras players that delivered the country its first World Cup in 28 years when the Catrachos qualified for South Africa 2020
“I thank God that I was able to be part of that golden generation, with Carlos Pavon, Amado Guevara, David Suazo, you could include many players. I feel proud to have been part of that national team because I always admired those players and I always wanted to play with them. I think now Honduras is producing very good players and we are going to have a long time with this group of players, who are going to achieve things,” said Palacios.
At that World Cup in South Africa, brothers Jerry and Johnny joined Wilson on Honduras’ World Cup squad, making them the first trio of brothers to represent a nation in a World Cup.
“I’m very proud of that because we had made a promise to our father because that was his dream. He wanted to see his sons in a World Cup and we were able to give it to him. We thank God for having that opportunity. Unfortunately, Honduras didn’t do as well as we wanted, but I enjoyed to the fullest being able to be with my brothers in a World Cup,” concluded Palacios.