• Saturday Jun 21, 2014

    Calm & cool Costa Rica keeps it going

    Marcos Urena (right) and Daniel Cambronero celebrate after Costa Rica defeats Italy in a FIFA World Cup match on June 20, 2014, in Recife, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)

     

    RECIFE, Brazil-- Rather than get sidetracked by unacknowledged claims for a penalty kick after it appeared Joel Campbell was taken in the box, Costa Rica maintained its composure and kept playing football.

    Little did the Ticos know that such commendable poise would be rewarded just 90 seconds later.

    In the 44th minute, Junior Diaz’s left-sided cross was dutifully head home by team captain Bryan Ruiz at the far post.

    That goal gave Costa Rica a 1-0 win over Italy on Friday and guaranteed it would get past the group stage for a second time in four all-time finals appearances.

    “It was a good game and we're really pleased by how Bryan [Ruiz] got his goal at such an important time just before the interval,” said head coach Jorge Luis Pinto.  “We were playing against an incredible team and we’re very proud.”

    Pinto’s pride is certainly well placed.

    When the draw was made last December for Brazil 2014, the Costa Ricans found themselves in a group that contained a trio of former champions: England, Italy and Uruguay.

    A 3-1 opening win over the Uruguayans -- the Copa America holders – seemed to catch the world pleasantly by surprise.  Little was made of the fact, though, that Costa Rica flourished during an 18-month stretch ahead of the competition. 

    In 2013, it won a seventh Central American title, reached the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals and finished second behind the United States in the final round of World Cup Qualifying.

    Perhaps, only one win in five 2014 friendlies served to lessen expectations, but those taking such a view did so at their own risk.

    For all the headlines that outstanding attackers Campbell and Ruiz are deservedly earning, it is Costa Rica’s defense that has played a large role in establishing success.  The backline allowed a Hexagonal-low seven goals in 10 games and has conceded only once in two World Cup outings.

    “I don’t want to seem like I’m being over-positive, but I honestly think that our defense was simply perfect today,” expressed Pinto.  “It’s not easy to play against a team of Italy’s quality.”

    To that point, the 61-year-old Colombian admitted that the four-time world champion has helped to shape his coaching philosophy.

    “It must be said that much of what I now know about the game I owe to Italy, having always followed Italian teams,” Pinto noted.

    Needing only a tie against England in its last Group D game to clinch first place, Pinto wants the Costa Rica contingent to enjoy the moment, but stay focused.

    “Our players now have to be relaxed,” he concluded.  “We need to savor this win, but also be ready to play well in our upcoming matches.”

     

  • Champions League

    Related News



RELATED NEWS YOU'LL LIKE

CONCACAF at the FIFA World Cup: Qualified Teams

With Honduras falling short in its bid to become CONCACAF’s fourth qualifier at the 2018 World Cup, the Confederation will officially send three teams to Russia: Costa Rica, Mexico and the Panama.

After European tour, Costa Rica looks to build for World Cup

Despite a 1-0 loss to host Hungary in an international friendly Tuesday in an international friendly in Budapest, Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez – especially on the heels of 5-0 loss at Spain four days earlier.

Gomez praises Panama after Wales draw

Panama has plenty to feel confident about following its 1-1 draw at Wales in an international friendly on Tuesday at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Pinto laments Honduras setback to Australia

Honduras’ bid for a third consecutive FIFA World Cup appearance ended after Mile Jedinak (54’, 72’ pen, 86’ pen) struck for three goals to give host Australia a 3-1 win in the second leg of their intercontinental playoff on Wednesday at ANZ Stadium, capturing the series by the same score.

McKennie scores on debut; U.S. draws with Portugal

In its first game since being eliminated from FIFA World Cup Qualifying last month, the visiting United States played European champion Portugal to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly at Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa on Tuesday.