Socceroos had to learn sign language to communicate
Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury says the players had been preparing hand signals to communicate to each other against Honduras to combat the intense noise from the fans in San Pedro Sula.
‘s players were forced to find alternative ways to communicate to each other during the first 20 or so minutes of their 0-0 draw with Honduras at the infamous Estadio Olimpico. Most of the Socceroos had never played in front of such a hostile and loud crowd before and had been prepared for as much by the national team’s coaches and support staff.
Sainsbury said the players spent their time during the week preparing ways to send messages knowing they would likely be unable to hear one another on the field.
“We’ve been practicing sign language all week so that helped. It was obviously difficult when they were using the vuvuzelas,” Sainsbury said.
The stadium is infamous for the pressure it places on opponents due to the vibrant, loud and often aggressive atmosphere from the Honduran fans. At one point just after kick-off, the concrete stands were vibrating as 40,000 supporters started stamping their feet that created the sound of a loud drum roll that could be heard across the stadium as the floor began to shake.
Horns, drums, chants, whistles and taunts were constant two hours before kick-off inside the stadium and the surrounding precinct. Western Sydney Wanderers defender Josh Risdon was thankful the players went through the appropriate measures to prepare for the atmosphere.
“Very tough to communicate, especially at the start of the game. [It was] hard to hear yourself think at one point. It was so loud, it was tough but we knew that before we went in. We communicated before we went out there and everyone knew their roles so we didn’t have to rely on that so much,” Risdon said
The decibels dropped after the Socceroos were awarded a penalty midway through the first half, only for it to be rescinded shortly after. From then on, the home fans became slightly more nervous and whilst remaining loud and vibrant, they lacked the same hostility and intimidation.
“Maybe in the beginning it was the toughest environment I’ve played in but I think we did a really god job in quieting them down,” Socceroos’ midfielder Jackson Irvine said. “You have to ride that storm. Walking out just to come and look at the pitch, the warm up was absolutely incredible. We had to lean in and speak to each other, it was that loud.”
Risdon had never played in front of a louder or more colourful atmosphere in his career but said it wasn’t hostile, rather an experience he will cherish.
“The best atmosphere I’ve ever played in. It’s what you want to play in, World Cup qualifiers to get through to a World Cup, in a different country, in circumstances like that, it’s what you play for and dreamt of as a kid. I tried to soak up every moment. Really enjoyable,” Risdon said.