Why Tim Cahill strikes fear in Honduran hearts
HONDURAS coach Jorge Luis Pinto has been burnt by Tim Cahill before and is fearful of the Socceroos stalwart inflicting similar pain at the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano on Saturday.
Pinto has predicted Cahill, who has battled an ankle injury since last Friday, will play for at least 20 minutes for Australia in their World Cup qualifying playoff first-leg against Honduras.
And it was with about 20 minutes remaining in a match four years ago in Sydney in which Cahill scored for the Socceroos, who were being coached by Ange Postecoglou for the first time, to beat a Pinto-coached team.
That night it was Costa Rica, and it was merely a friendly.
On Saturday, the stakes are much higher, with Honduras and Australia starting their two-legged playoff to decide which of the two nations plays in next year's World Cup.
Pinto was reluctant to name a Socceroos player Honduras would need to shut down to ensure his side heads to Sydney for Wednesday night's second leg in the box seat to qualify.
But he couldn't help but mention Cahill.
"There's not one man that is (most) important in the Australian team," Pinto said before Honduras' final training session before the first leg.
"It's all of them, including the bench because most likely Cahill's going to come on at the latest with 20 minutes left.
"We've seen around 10 to 12 videos of the current Australian team. I've also faced them before, so it's not one man, it's the entire team that's important."
Pinto is familiar with not only Cahill from the Australian squad that's in San Pedro Sula, with the Socceroos side that beat the Pinto-coached Costa Rica 1-0 in 2013 also including goalkeeper Mat Ryan and midfielder Mile Jedinak, and defender Ryan McGowan and playmaker Tom Rogic, who both came off the bench.
As has been the message all week, Pinto stressed the Hondurans desire to make the Socceroos feel welcome in their country - until kick-off.
"I'm pretty sure that any Australian that comes to our country is going to enjoy it, because we love visitors and tourists," Pinto said.
"They're going to have fun, but once we're on the pitch it's going to be war."
The Hondurans were extremely jovial during the 15 minutes of their training session at Estadio Francisco Morazán that was open to media.
The Socceroos were due to train later in the day at the match venue for the first time this week.
Australia's session will also go behind-closed-doors after 15 minutes, with Postecoglou to make a final decision on whether Cahill is fit enough to play a role on Saturday.