Hon­duras cry drone es­pi­onage

Bangkok Post - - SPORTS -

SYD­NEY: Hon­duras ac­cused Aus­tralia of us­ing a drone for “es­pi­onage” yes­ter­day, giv­ing an ex­tra edge to to­day’s win­ner-takes-all play-off to reach next year’s World Cup.

Coach Jorge Luis Pinto called it “em­bar­rass­ing” af­ter a drone was spot­ted hov­er­ing near an of­fi­cial train­ing ses­sion, even though Aus­tralian re­ports said it was be­ing flown by chil­dren.

Pinto has also re­port­edly claimed that Hon­duran me­dia leaked in­for­ma­tion to Aus­tralia, and sug­gested the Soc­ceroos swept for hid­den cam­eras ahead of last Fri­day’s 0-0 first-leg draw in San Pe­dro Sula.

“I think the in­ci­dent is em­bar­rass­ing for such an ad­vanced coun­try. I think it’s a pity,” Pinto said, when asked about the drone.

“[When Aus­tralia came to Hon­duras] they checked every bath­room of the sta­dium to see if we had cam­eras. What a shame, in a coun­try with this cul­ture and level, ask­ing to do that.”

He added: “Let’s not be naive. It’s es­pi­onage in foot­ball that be­gins to hap­pen with this tech­nol­ogy. It needs to be con­trolled.

“Like [the video as­sis­tant ref­eree] made its way into foot­ball, drones have made their way into es­pi­onage.”

Aus­tralia coach Ange Postecoglou ear­lier brushed off the claim of an in­for­ma­tion leak, say­ing he was “not re­ally con­cerned about it to be hon­est”.

“We are flat-out fo­cus­ing on our­selves. There was a fair bit of drama around be­fore the first game, again we stayed right out of it,” he said.

Postecoglou, whose fu­ture is un­clear af­ter he re­fused to dis­miss re­ports he is about to quit, has been given a boost for to­day’s game with tal­is­man Tim Cahill say­ing he’s ready to play af­ter an an­kle in­jury.

Both teams made the long trip to Syd­ney for the re­turn game but the Aus­tralians ar­rived 24 hours ear­lier, earn­ing ex­tra re­cov­ery time, by splash­ing out around US$760,000 (ap­prox­i­mately 25 mil­lion baht) on a char­tered flight.

“This has been the long­est World Cup cam­paign taken by any na­tion in the amount of games played and the kilo­me­tres trav­elled, so you don’t want that to all mean noth­ing,” Postecoglou said.

Aus­tralia have not lost at home in the cur­rent qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign, and 12 years ago they won a play-off against Uruguay on penal­ties to reach their first World Cup fi­nals in 32 years.

They are now tar­get­ing their fourth straight World Cup, while Hon­duras can reach their third in a row with a sur­prise vic­tory in Syd­ney.

Cahill, 37, who scored twice as Aus­tralia edged Syria to reach the in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal play-off, said he was no longer think­ing about the in­jury that kept him out of the first leg.

“Once I’m avail­able for se­lec­tion I don’t think about my an­kle or any­thing like that,” the Soc­ceroos’ record goal scorer said.

“I just think about the end re­sult of con­tribut­ing to get­ting to a fourth con­sec­u­tive World Cup.”

AFP

Aus­tralia’s Tim Cahill.

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