The World Cup soccer squad of El Salvador is unique among the sides currently training for the 1970 series in Mexico.
The World Cup soccer squad of El Salvador is unique among the sides currently training for the 1970 series in Mexico. Last year, the tiny central American republic literally fought its way into the finals by waging a full-scale was against neighbouring Honduras.
After two initial encounters had ended inconclusively, El Salvador and Honduras met for a deciding match in Mexico City's Aztec Stadium. El Salvador won 3-2 in extra time. It climaxed an ugly propaganda war, and within days the two countries were fighting a real war in which 2,000 people died and tens of thousands were made homeless.
Though they are tipped as prospective World Cup giant-killers, El Salvador go into the series as complete outsiders. Their modest status is reflected in their practice pitch -- a heavily used factory ground in Mexico City. There the players are embattled by regular "invasions" of rabbits kept by factory workers.
El Salvador will play in the same group as Mexico, Russia and belgium. The team is firmly drilled by Chilean manager Hernan Carrasco and chief coach Sindulfo Averio stark from Paraguay. Their training routing is based partly on British exercises, partly on Brazilian work-out methods.
The team's hopes are pinned especially on three men. There is right-winger Mauricio Rodriguez -- scorer of the play-off goal which sank Honduras. He plays alongside national idol Juan Ramon Martines, scorer of seven World Cup goals in qualifying games.
The tower of strength in defence is the man they call "The Mountain", skipper Salvador Mariona, who keeps a tight control over the midfield.