Honduras’ 1-0 victory at El Salvador, which earned the tiny, troubled Central American nation a place in next year’s World Cup, drove thousands to the streets on Wednesday to celebrate in the capital Tegucigalpa.
In Cayman too, a cavalcade of cars drove around George Town hooting their horns and waving flags.
Honduras needed a little help to reach the final 32 in South Africa next summer.
That came in Washington, DC where Jonathan Bornstein headed in the equalizer in the fifth minute of injury time to give the United States a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica.
Costa Rica needed only to hold the lead a few more seconds to get the automatic berth. Instead, Honduras qualified and Costa Rica face a two-game playoff in November against South America’s No.5 team Uruguay for another berth.
Argentina defeated Uruguay 1-0 on to claim South America’s last automatic berth.
The United States finished No.1 in the CONCACAF qualifying group with 20 points. Mexico, who drew 2-2 at Trinidad and Tobago in a largely meaningless game, finished with 19 points.
Honduras and Costa Rica both had 16 points, but Honduras advanced on superior goal difference. El Salvador finished with eight and Trinidad had six.
It was a great week for Honduran football in Cayman for another reason because the Bonaca Boys won the Division 1 WestTel 5-a-side title at the King’s Sports Centre. The team all come from the Bonaca part of Honduras.
Honduras’ victorious football team seemed to unite the country – at least temporarily.
The impoverished country has been beset by political unrest since June when the military detained President Manuel Zelaya and sent him into exile with Roberto Micheletti taking over the presidency.
Miguel Brown is the unofficial Consular for Honduras in Cayman and a former president of Latinos Football Club.
He said: ‘For Honduras this is great. To us football is far more important than in some other countries. We don’t really play other sports. Our national side headed for the church when it got back to Honduras give thanks.
‘I think that football is so important to the Hondurans that going to the World Cup will help solve the political crisis in a very short time.
‘The president of Honduras said he wants to invite the US player that scored the second goal against Costa Rica to come for a vacation to the Bay Islands with all expenses paid by him.
‘To show you how strong our football is, we have four players in the English Premiership, three in Italy and others in Spain and the MLS.
‘Julio Cesar ‘Rambo’ De Leon plays in Italy for Torino. When our match against El Salvador finished in the 95th minute he started crying because he thought the US match must have finished already and they had lost to Costa Rica.
‘But that match went on longer than ours and when they scored in the dying seconds he started crying with joy!
‘At the World Cup finals, if have total believe in ourselves then I believe we can go past the group stages.’