Celtic defender Emilio Izaguirre has described the “crazy” scenes in Honduras after he helped his national team qualify for a second successive World Cup finals.
Honduras secured their place at Brazil 2014 with a 2-2 draw against Jamaica in Kingston in October, and Izaguirre – whose international team-mates include Rangers’ Arnold Peralta and former Hibernian midfielder Jorge Claros – was caught up in joyous scenes on his way back to Glasgow.
Izaguirre told the Celtic View: “It was crazy. The people were very happy. After we played Jamaica away and drew 2-2, we came back to Honduras on the flight and there were a lot of people at the airport.
“There were so many people outside that we couldn’t leave the terminal. The players all enjoyed this moment as there were people crying and were so happy, thanking all the players for making the country happy. It was an incredible moment and my best experience of playing for Honduras.
“We had got to the airport from Jamaica around two in the morning and we couldn’t leave. I had gone on to the bus but it was impossible to move as people were on the roof of the bus as well. So I stayed at the airport for around three hours waiting to get to the hotel and I was only there a few hours before I was back at the airport to fly back to Glasgow.”
The 27-year-old joined Celtic in 2010, after playing in the World Cup finals, and is looking to improve on their record of taking one point in South Africa. “The most exciting thing about the World Cup is just qualifying for it as it made people all over Honduras so happy,” the left-back said. “It’s still a new experience for us. When we went to South Africa we had no experience of playing in a big tournament and now we have that so hopefully we can have a good World Cup.
“We have been striving for this for four years since the last World Cup in South Africa, and we are all very happy in Honduras, whether it’s the fans, our families or everyone in the country. It’s very exciting and I have to thank God for this moment as going back to the World Cup is fantastic.”
Meanwhile, it emerged last night that at least three World Cup stadiums in Brazil will not be finished by the end of December as Fifa had requested.
Football’s governing body said the stadiums in Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Cuiaba will not be ready by the deadline because of construction delays. The announcement came after the World Cup organising committee received updates from the six host cities that have yet to deliver the venues for next year’s tournament. The other six were ready for this year’s Confederations Cup.
“Two stadiums will be delivered more in the region of February than in January or December,” Fifa Secretary General Jerome Valcke said. “Curitiba is the one where we are facing the most problems. Clearly, Curitiba will not be delivered before the end of February 2014, so that’s a fact.”
The stadium of Cuiaba is also not expected to be ready until February, four months before the World Cup opens on 12 June. Fifa still doesn’t know when it will have the venue in Sao Paulo, where a crane collapse last week killed two workers and damaged part of the stadium. A report on the scale of the damage is expected later in the week.
“We are in a period of time when the opening game of the World Cup will be played in Sao Paulo,” Valcke said. “We are not in a crisis mood where we are looking for an alternative to Sao Paulo. We are confident they can deliver the stadium on time (for the opener.).”
The Sao Paulo venue, which will host the tournament’s opening match, was almost ready when a giant crane buckled while hoisting a 500-ton metal structure that clipped part of the roof and cut through a huge LED panel that runs across the venue’s outer facade.
Fifa said it would not tolerate the same types of delays that plagued the Confederations Cup, when only two of the six venues were completed by the original deadline and finishing touches of paint were still being applied the day before the tournament began.