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5 Honduras players to watch at the World Cup

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April 10, 2014 05:54 AM EST | AP


TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Playing at the World Cup for only the third time, teamwork and organization will be key for Honduras.

Just qualifying for the tournament in Brazil was a massive achievement, but now the focus is on finally winning a match on football's biggest stage.

Here are five players to watch:

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CARLO COSTLY

Carlo Costly is a tall striker who has been unable to find consistency in his club career.

He has played in Poland, England, Romania, Mexico, the United States, Greece and China, but returned to Honduras with Real Espana early in 2014.

Despite the globe-trotting, Costly has remained a central focus of the Honduran national team since debuting in 2007, although he missed out on the last World Cup because of injury.

Costly uses his physical strength and aerial prowess to cause problems for defenders. He holds the ball up for his teammates and is an awkward player to mark.

The former Birmingham player scored a famous goal for Honduras in World Cup qualifying, netting a second-half winner at Estadio Azteca to seal victory over Mexico.

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JERRY BENGTSON

Jerry Bengtson is Honduras' other tall, powerful striker.

The Costly-Bengtson partnership has the ability to cause problems for group rivals Ecuador, France and Switzerland at the World Cup.

The New England Revolution player scored nine goals in 12 games in CONCACAF qualifying and is known for his all-around ability to both play with his back to goal and create opportunities for himself.

Bengtson made a name for himself outside of the Americas at the 2012 Olympics, scoring the goal that defeated Spain 1-0 to knock the European nation out of the tournament.

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EMILIO IZAGUIRRE

Left back Emilio Izaguirre plays for Scottish champion Celtic and is one of the only Honduras players — along with Wilson Palacios and Andy Najar — with experience playing in the Champions League.

The defender is best known for his forays down the left flank, but his crossing into Costly and Bengtson is one of the most dangerous aspects of the team.

Izaguirre has previously been linked with big-name clubs outside Scotland, where he was voted the first division's 2010 player of the year by his peers.

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MAYNOR FIGUROA

With more than 100 appearances for the national team and more than 200 Premier League games, Maynor Figueroa is one of Honduras' most experienced players and is charged with leading the defense at the World Cup.

Figueroa plays at left back for Hull, where he moved from Wigan in 2013, but is a central defender for Honduras, partly due to Izaguirre's quality. He has a knack of scoring spectacular goals, including one in December 2009 from his own half when playing for Wigan.

Goalkeeper Noel Valladares is Honduras' captain, but Figueroa is one of the main leaders in the team.

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WILSON PALACIOS

A combative defensive midfielder, Wilson Palacios' best moment came at Tottenham when he dominated AC Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf in the Champions League in 2011.

Palacios became Honduras' most expensive player when Tottenham signed him from Wigan in 2009.

The central midfielder has struggled following a move to Stoke in August 2011, failing to break into the first team on a regular basis, although he remains a key figure for Honduras and a leader on the field.

Tragedy struck Palacios' family in 2009 when his younger brother was found dead in Honduras. He had been kidnapped in 2007.