Keylor Navas (left) gets a hand from teammate Celso Borges during Costa Rica's international friendly at Russia on October 9, 2016, in Krasnodar. (Photo courtesy ofFootball Union of Russia)
KRASNODAR, Russia – Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas enjoyed a victorious return to the national team in Sunday’s 4-3 victory over host Russia in an international friendly.
The 2014 CONCACAF player of the year had not played for the Ticos since March 29, a 3-0 defeat of Jamaica in a third-round qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He had been out of action for three months, recovering from left-heel surgery that caused him to miss the Copa America Centenario and Real Madrid’s first eight matches this season.
“It’s wonderful being able to have a winning return to the national team after being out with the injuries I had,” said a delighted Navas. “We tried to do our best job, but we faced a good opponent.”
It was a back and forth affair with the 2018 World Cup host, but a late penalty conversion by Joel Campbell handed the Central American champion a win. Navas highlighted the positives, while also acknowledging that Costa Rica must improve in several areas.
“The team did a good job against a quality opponent,” the 29-year-old remarked. “We were able to score four goals and that makes us happy, but we also want to concern ourselves with the goals we allowed, so we take away important points for us to improve upon.”
Up next for Costa Rica is a trip to Trinidad & Tobago to launch the final round of World Cup Qualifying on November 11. Four days later, it will welcome the United States to the Estadio Nacional in San Jose.
Navas believes that the friendly in Russia served as good preparation for those encounters.
“Playing in Europe is always very difficult and the team had character, confidence and personality,” finished Navas. “That is very valuable to go into playing the Hexagonal.”