Honduras blast tight play-off schedule

SYDNEY • Fifa's decision to schedule the World Cup qualifier between Australia and Honduras with just over four days in between the two matches was "inhumane", the Central Americans' coach Jorge Luis Pinto has said.

The first match in the intercontinental play-off for a spot at the Finals in Russia next year is scheduled to take place in Honduras on Nov 10, with the second leg in Sydney five days later.

There are no direct flights from Australia to Honduras and the Honduran team's logistics manager told local newspaper La Prensa they have to fly to Los Angeles before connecting on a flight heading Down Under.

"It's inhumane of Fifa to put the dates so close with such a long trip in between them," Pinto said in quotes that were widely reported in Honduras on Monday.

However, he said his team will have a slight advantage in playing the first match at home.

"We don't have to do two trips that could be harmful to us," he told the Diez sports newspaper.

"On the other hand, Australia have to come here and play the game and then go home and that's more tiring."

Meanwhile, Australia coach Ange Postecoglou was urged to stay loyal to the national team yesterday after he was linked with a big-money move to Shanghai Shenhua in China. The 52-year-old has failed to confirm or deny reports that he is considering quitting the Socceroos.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph, without naming sources, said Shenhua, one of Asia's richest clubs, wants him as coach after they sacked Gus Poyet last month.

The report said Shenhua had prepared a contract worth US$3 million (S$4.1 million) a year to tempt Postecoglou to jump ship.

Former Socceroos striker Robbie Slater said Postecoglou must first see out Australia's World Cup campaign, and urged him to come clean on his plans.

"We're talking about our country and a commitment and (if) you make all the statements you have, then you stay," he told Sky Sports Radio. "If you are going to go, tell us. Be honest. That's the only thing I'm accusing him of - not giving the finality of whatever decision has been made."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2017, with the headline 'Honduras blast tight play-off schedule'. Print Edition | Subscribe