Costa Rica players react after falling to the Netherlands in a FIFA World Cup quarterfinal at Arena Fonte Nova on July 5, 2014, in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
SALVADOR, Brazil – Costa Rica’s historic run at the 2014 FIFA World Cup may have ended Saturday with its quarterfinal elimination at the hands of the Netherlands via penalty kicks, but goalkeeper Keylor Navas feels only pride in what his Ticos accomplished.
The Levante star was a revelation at a competition in which he conceded two goals in five games, including only one against four European powers.
“We leave with our heads high,” said the 27-year-old. “We all did a good job. We gave everything on the field. It is difficult to lose, nobody likes it.
“We didn't lose any game - a penalty shootout isn't a defeat.”
The Central American champion officially went undefeated with two wins and three draws in five games, making it the sixth time that a team from CONCACAF advanced past of the round of 16 in World Cup history (USA: 1930 - semifinals, 2002 - quarterfinals; Cuba: 1938 - quarterfinals; Mexico: 1970 & 1986 - quarterfinals).
“This World Cup has been a very beautiful experience for me,” expressed Navas. “They (the Dutch) converted their penalties well. We did not have the same happiness as we did against Greece in the second round.”
Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto was equal parts proud and grateful.
“When we came here, very few believed in us. However, during this World Cup we’ve done many beautiful things,” said the Colombian. “Even though we have to leave the tournament, we haven’t been beaten, even by the superpowers we came up against.
“We have left a positive and dignified impression of Costa Rican football. I’m proud of the players and so is the country. They’ve given everything they have.”