• Tuesday Jun 17, 2014

    With Italy looming, Costa Rica is hard at work

    Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte (left) celebrates after scoring against Uruguay during their FIFA World Cup match at the Estadio Castelao on June 14, 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)

    SANTOS, Brazil – On the heels of a stunning 3-1 win over Uruguay, Costa Rica is back at work preparing for two matches that will ultimately determine its World Cup fate.

    Next up, on Friday, is an encounter against Italy, which defeated England 2-1 with a master class of precision and guile.

    For as daunting as that encounter promises to be, there is a level of seriousness in the Costa Rican camp, revealing a belief that more can be achieved.

    "We are very calm because we know that we took a big step, but we have not won anything yet,” said defender Roy Miller.  “It's not over.  There are two very important games and we are clear that it is not worth having won the first game and lose the other two.”

    The New York Red Bulls standout realizes that Italy poses a different tactical challenge, especially in the center of the field, where the Azzurri maintained the greatest percentage of its possession against England.

    "We're thinking of Italy and go in with the same mentality of winning the game, although we know it will be a difficult match,” Miller commented.  “We have already talked a bit about Italy and I believe they have good players in midfield.  It is clear that you cannot give them much space.”

    Costa Rica assistant coach Paulo Cesar Wanchope, who scored three goals in six all-time World Cup matches, noted that the Ticos cannot focus on the Italians at the expense of concentrating on their own game plan.

    "We are clear on our game and what we want to show,” said the 38-year-old.  “In every game we play in this World Cup, we will always come out with the mantra of winning, to give a good show and keep giving surprises.”

    In their only previous meeting, Italy posted a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in New Haven, Connecticut, just before the start of USA 1994.

    The Costa Ricans had never won against Uruguay in eight meetings prior to Saturday.  Perhaps, it will beat the Italians for a first time as well.

    "We are clear that as each game passes, things will becomes much more complicated,” concluded Wancope.  “The big challenge now, for the simple fact we beat Uruguay, is that much more will be expected from Costa Rica and we do not intend to disappoint.

    “Right now, we are focusing on Italy to obtain the three points we need to get us closer to the next round.”

    Costa Rica has not advanced past the group stage of a World Cup since 1990, when it defeated Scotland and Sweden on the way to a Round of 16 berth.

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