SAN PEDRO SULA (Honduras) • Honduras winger Romell Quioto has labelled their World Cup play-off against Australia as "one of the most important games of our lives" and believes their hopes of reaching Russia depend on a first-leg win at home today.
Honduras finished fourth in the Concacaf region of North and Central America and the Caribbean thanks to a last-day win over Mexico. They will meet Australia at home today, before heading Down Under for the second leg five days later.
The Central Americans have struggled recently, with just three wins in their last 16 matches, and Quioto admits they will need to produce their best form to qualify for next year's tournament.
"I think it is one of the most important games of our lives," he said. "It is the chance to go to the World Cup Finals. We are going to give it everything."
Quioto and his team-mates have all stressed they need to take a decent result to Australia, whose only losses at home this year were to Brazil and Germany.
"You have to give your all in these games, you have to kill them off if you can," striker Anthony Lozano said.
But the Socceroos will not be content with a draw at San Pedro Sula's intimidating 40,000-capacity Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano either.
"The way the boss (Ange Postecoglou) wants us to play is to go all out and try and win the game," said midfielder Aaron Mooy, who is brimming with confidence after a successful start to the English Premier League season with Huddersfield.
19% Honduras' win rate, with just three victories in 16 matches.
"It doesn't matter if it's away or home - that's what we will do. And hopefully that will give us a good result to take back to Sydney."
Their fearlessness will be needed, for they will be in a Honduran city notorious for violence linked to the drug trade, with the stadium located on the edge of a cane field where gangs dump corpses and dismember victims with chainsaws.
Australia are sweating on the availability of veteran forward Tim Cahill, who flew to Honduras with his physio, in the hope of working his injured ankle into match readiness.
They will also be without striker Robbie Kruse, who has a knee injury. Mark Milligan and Mathew Leckie are both banned.
Honduras captain Maynor Figueroa and forward Alberth Elis are also serving one-game suspensions.
They have recalled veteran striker Carlo Costly in the hope he can add to his tally of 32 goals in 75 international games and have been boosted by the inclusion of star striker Eddie Hernandez, who is recovering quicker than expected from a cheek fracture.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE