60th Minute, Eduardo Antonio “Tony” Laing, Honduras v Northern Ireland, World Cup 1982 Group Stage
Honduras qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup for the first time by winning the CONCACAF Championship in 1981 as hosts, which was a full sixty years from the moment they made their debut in International football.
Qualification gave the Hondurans the chance to make themselves famous for something other than the “Football War” with El Salvador in 1969 where rioting between the two sets of fans sparked a war which only lasted for one hundred hours yet 3000 lives were tragically lost. The tensions between the countries remain and their matches are often fiery. El Salvador actually made it to the 1982 World Cup in Spain as well but their adventure would start with a 10-1 defeat to Hungary and not get much better.
Expectations were low as the World Cup in Spain approached and few Hondurans could afford to make the transatlantic trip. Their first match was a daunting one, they had to face hosts Spain in front of a 50,000 screaming locals, but they silenced the partisan crowd after only eight minutes as Hector Zeyala gave them the lead. It took a Spain penalty with twenty-five minutes remaining to peg them back. The 1-1 result shocked the world and the next test for Honduras was against Northern Ireland.
After just ten minutes Honduras fell behind to a scrappy goal but they were unlucky not to be level at half-time as they missed two excellent chances including Betancourt smashing one against the underside of the bar. Honduras rode their luck at times too but grew in confidence as the game went on.
Right before the hour mark Honduras win a corner and Tony Laing heads home and celebrates with his team mates piling on top of him…
What Happened Next?
Either side could have snatched victory late on but it finished 1-1. Honduras played Yugoslavia in the final match in the group knowing a victory would see them qualify for the next group stage. Both sides had glorious chances for victory but the Yugoslavians won a penalty in the 88th minute which they converted. Honduras were out but with their pride very much intact.
Tony Laing earned a move to Greece for a season on the back of these performances. Many members of the Honduras squad went on to have spells in Spain too shortly after this World Cup with a few making a decent career for themselves.
Honduras would have to wait until 2010 to compete again at a World Cup where they suffered disappointment. They faced a tough group in South Africa and failed to score in their three games against Chile, Spain and Switzerland.
Honduras have qualified for the 2014 edition and have a slightly more favourable group this time. They will play Switzerland again alongside France and Ecuador.