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Honduras makes it again, qualifies for 2014 World Cup

Honduras' Figueroa celebrates after he scored a goal against Jamaica in a 2014 World Cup qualifying match in Kingston

Honduras’ Maynor Figueroa (3) celebrates with teammate Carlos Costly after he scored their second goal against Jamaica in a 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match in Kingston, October 15, 2013. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy (JAMAICA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

REUTERS

It can be difficult for someone in the United States to fully comprehend what a World Cup appearance means to a nation like Honduras.

Our much larger nation is blessed with more Olympic gold medalists and globally recognized athletes than most of us can possibly keep track of.

It’s so much different in a place like Honduras, where the population of 8.2 million put its pretty close to Virginia. Size-wise, at 43,000 square feet, it’s just a little bigger than Kentucky or Tennessee.

So making a World Cup is a massive historical achievement ... and the fact that Honduras’ place in world soccer has grown substantially in the past four years makes Tuesday’s accomplishment less novel, perhaps, but no less cause for celebration.

The steadily rising Hondurans qualified for their second consecutive World Cup, surviving the unbelievable night with a 2-2 draw against Jamaica down in Kingston.

Honduras also qualified for the 1982 finals. But the gap was vast until the country qualified for South Africa. (And represented itself well in 2010, despite not winning a match. Los Catrachos fell 1-0 to a good Chilean side, fell by 2-0 to eventual champion Spain and then drew with improving Switzerland, 0-0.)

Honduras followed that with a stirring performance in the 2012 London Olympics, as the under-23s (augmented with full national team players, including former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza) advanced past the first round and fell to Brazil, 3-2, in a stirring quarterfinal.

(MORE: The surreal, mad, final night in CONCACAF qualifying)