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Soccer-Honduras and Ecuador meet in clash of former coaches

Reuters

By Keith Weir

CURITIBA, Brazil, June 18 (Reuters) - Honduras and Ecuador, who lost their opening games, chase a vital World Cup victory on Friday in a game that will see both coaches plotting the downfall of their former teams.

In an unusual twist, Honduras are led by Luis Fernando Suarez, the man who guided Ecuador to the last 16 in 2006, their best showing at a World Cup.

Ecuador are coached by Reinaldo Rueda, who was in charge of Honduras in their 2010 World Cup campaign when they failed to make it past the first round and did not score a goal.

To add to the feeling of familiarity, both coaches are Colombians.

"I had great times in Honduras, but now Im here and as always I must go for the win," said Rueda.

"Honduras are a great team, we all know their ability. They didn't start well, but they want and they need to win as much as we do," he added.

The two teams have never met in a competitive fixture but played out eight draws in 13 friendlies.

They will not be able to settle for cancelling each other out on Friday as both need to win to maintain a realistic chance of progressing from a group which also includes France and Switzerland.

"I must have had about four or five of their current squad when I was there so I do know something about them," Suarez said of rivals Ecuador.

"But there is no real advantage in playing against another Latin American team," he told Reuters before the tournament.

Although both teams lost on Sunday, they put in contrasting performances.

Striker Enner Valencia put Ecuador in front against Switzerland but they were eventually beaten 2-1 after conceding a stoppage time goal.

Honduras lost 3-0 to France and played for more than half the game with 10 men after English based midfielder Wilson Palacios was sent off. Palacios will miss the Ecuador game because of suspension.

Coach Rueda said his team had got carried away in the final stages of the Swiss game and paid the price for being naive.

The team got high profile support from President Rafael Correa who said that reaching a third World Cup was an achievement in itself.

"We should be proud of our national team. Luck deserted us on Sunday but let's not give up hope," he said.

Honduras, who have never won a game at the World Cup, will look to strikers Jerry Bengtson and Carlo Costly at least to break a 32-year goal drought.

They have not scored at the finals since they drew 1-1 with Northern Ireland in 1982.

Fans in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba will be hoping for a more lively match than the 0-0 draw played out by Iran and Nigeria here on Monday. (Additional reporting by Javier Leira, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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