Costa Rica (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Honduras in Central American under-17 qualifying match on November 26, 2016, in Pavas, San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – When Breansse Camacho was named head coach of the Costa Rica under-17 national team in April 2015, he emphasized the importance of qualifying for youth-level World Cups.
Last month, his side took the first step by finishing first in Central American qualifying for the 2017 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship with a perfect 4W-0D-0L record, scoring 16 goals and conceding none.
Ahead of the next step, the Ticos learned their group stage fate on Tuesday, when they were drawn into Group B along with Canada, Cuba and Suriname.
Despite initial success, Camacho realizes that if Costa Rica is to earn a place at India 2017, it must remain attentive against all comers.
“All of the opponents are to be respected. We know how they have cut down the gap in today’s football,” said Camacho. “We are going to take every precaution and have necessary respect for all of the opponents because we know that they are going to want to reach the next phase.”
After missing out on the 2011 and 2013 U-17 World Cups, the Ticos qualified for the 2015 edition on the strength of a 3-0 playoff win over Canada. Costa Rica will kick-off its 2017 CONCACAF schedule against the Canadians on April 22. For Camacho, a fast start will set the right tone for the tournament.
“[Canada] is a tough opponent, an opponent with very special characteristics,” he concluded. “We know that we absolutely cannot let anything happen. We have to take every precaution and our intention from the first game is to try to get a lead to be able to qualify for the next round.”
Costa Rica has competed in nine all-time U-17 World Cups, progressing to the quarterfinals in 2015, before falling 1-0 to Belgium.