Hon­duras ac­cuse Aus­tralia of ‘es­pi­onage’

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FOOTBALL -

SYD­NEY: Hon­duras coach Jorge Luis Pinto has ac­cused Aus­tralia of “es­pi­onage” af­ter al­leg­ing they had used a drone to film his team’s train­ing ses­sions ahead of Wed­nes­day’s de­ci­sive World Cup play­off match.

The Hon­duran Na­tional foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Mon­day posted on Twit­ter footage of a drone fly­ing above Syd­ney’s Olympic Sta­dium where the team trained af­ter their long flight from Cen­tral Amer­ica.

Hon­duras face the Soc­ceroos at the same sta­dium Wed­nes­day in the de­cid­ing sec­ond leg of their in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play­off with the scores level at 0-0 af­ter a tight first leg in San Pe­dro Sula Fri­day.

While foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia said they were not in­volved in the drone in­ci­dent, Pinto said the af­fair was “em­bar­rass­ing for such an ad­vanced coun­try.”

“Let’s not be in­no­cent, it’s es­pi­onage in foot­ball,” he told re­porters through a trans­la­tor Tues­day.

“When Aus­tralia went to Hon­duras, they checked ev­ery bath­room, ev­ery box at the sta­dium where they trained. It just takes some of the merit away from the fair play and the sport­ing event that will be held to­mor­row.”

Pinto was also in­volved in a row with the me­dia at the start of Mon­day’s ses­sion when he tried to close train­ing be­fore the 15 min­utes of open ac­cess that are al­lowed un­der FIFA rules.

The Colom­bian also sug­gested on his ar­rival in Syd­ney that some­one in the Hon­duran me­dia had leaked tac­ti­cal de­tails to Aus­tralia.

“Re­gard­less of the in­ci­dent with the drone, and the pos­si­bil­ity of a jour­nal­ist from Hon­duras leak­ing in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing our team, we are happy with the wel­come we have had here,” Pinto said.

“We are fac­ing a bal­anced side. We need to be ag­gres­sive and I’ll be even hap­pier we’re able to go back to Hon­duras with qual­i­fi­ca­tion.”

Hon­duras’ bid for a fourth ap­pear­ance at the World Cup fi­nals, and third in a row, has been far from plain sail­ing and they needed two sec­ond-half goals to clinch a place in the play­off with a 3-2 win over Mex­ico last month.

Wed­nes­day Pinto will be able to call on ex­pe­ri­enced cap­tain Maynor Figueroa and winger Al­berth Elis, who were both sus­pended for the first leg.

But it is the long balls through to for­ward Carlo Costly, who came close to break­ing the dead­lock in the first leg, that might con­cern Aus­tralia most as they seek to avoid con­ced­ing an away goal.

“With­out a doubt we’ll be em­ploy­ing long balls to­mor­row,” Pinto said.

“If the head coach of Aus­tralia is watch­ing the press con­fer­ence, he has an in­sight into our game plan.” –

“Let’s not be in­no­cent, it’s es­pi­onage in foot­ball,” Pinto said.

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