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Ticos captures first tournament title under newly formed CONCACAF
By Rodrigo A. Calvo Castro
After winning seven of the 10 CCCF (Confederación Centroamericana y Caribe de Fútbol) Championships, Costa Rica continued its success after the founding of CONCACAF in a competition called NORCECA (North, Central America & Caribbean), capturing the inaugural championship for national teams.
The nine-team competition was conceived two years earlier (September 18, 1961) in Mexico City, Mexico, when the North American Football Confederation merged with the CCCF to establish what is now known as CONCACAF.
Ramón Coll Jaumet of Costa Rica -- the first elected CONCACAF President -- and his Executive Committee, quickly approved the formation of the confederation's initial tournaments for clubs and national teams: Champions' Cup, Youth Championship in 1962; and NORCECA in 1963.
The NORCECA Championship was held every two years as CONCACAF's official championship for national teams from 1963-1971.From 1973-1989, the competition doubled as the confederation's qualifiers to FIFA World Cups, which later led to the creation of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991.
CONCACAF's inaugural tournament was hosted by El Salvador from March 23-April 7, 1963, and was won by Costa Rica under the direction of head coach Alfredo Piedra.
"The base formation of the team came from the squad that won the 1955 CCCF title in Honduras," said Piedra in an interview with La Nación newspaper (Costa Rica) in June 2003, during a reunion with members of the Costa Rican delegation from the first NORCECA."There were also players like Édgar Marín, Héctor 'Macho' Coto and Leonel Hernández that competed the year before at the CONCACAF Youth Tournament in Panama that were key components to our success."
In the first round, held in the city of Santa Ana, Costa Rica topped its group by defeating Jamaica (6-0) and the Netherlands Antilles (1-0) and holding Mexico to a scoreless draw.Those results were enough to send the Ticos into the final round.
Mexico, who had competed at the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile, was surprisingly eliminated as it lost to the Netherlands Antilles 2-1 in the group's opener.
"I was a very young rookie compared to Leonel and Coto as it was my first appearance with the full national team for which I hold a great part in my heart because we became 'champions of CONCACAF' along side well-known Costa Rican players, like an all-star team, such as 'Catato' (Mario Cordero), Pelirrojo (Enrique Córdoba), Édgar Quesada, Rubén Jiménez and (Mario) 'Flaco' Pérez," recalled 68-year-old former striker Édgar Marin, who also holds the record for the most league championships (12) by a Tico in the first division with Deportivo Saprissa.
Marín, scorer of four goals in 32 appearances with Costa Rica, continued: "We played some difficult matches in this first NORCECA against Honduras, El Salvador, Netherlands Antilles and Mexico.I was surprised with some of the results but it was also very motivating for me because it was my first action with the national side."
The final group was played at the Estadio Flor Blanca (now called the Estadio Jorge "Magico" Gonzalez) in San Salvador.Costa Rica upended El Salvador (4-1), once again beat the Netherlands Antilles (1-0) and concluded the competition with a 2-1 triumph over Honduras to claim the title.
"That Costa Rican team had excellent players that passed the ball extremely well," said Marin."We had a very practical style of football with fine quick touches.
"That was our characteristics and I learned a lot from them."
Overall, Costa Rica completed the 1963 NORCECA with an unbeaten record of 5 wins and 1 draw (14 GF, 2 GA), obtaining 11 of the possible 12 points (two points were awarded for a victory).
The tournament's top scorer was El Salvador's Eduardo "Volkswagen" Hernández with six goals, while three players finished tied for second with four goals each -- Roland Delanoy (Netherlands Antilles), Juan "Tribilín" González (Costa Rica) and Guillermo "Chato" Ortiz (Mexico).
The Ticos also acquired two other awards with Asdrúbal Meneses earning the Tournament's Best Goalkeeper and the Fair Play trophy went to the team captain Mario Cordero.
Costa Rica Roster - 1963 CONCACAF Nations Championship (NORCECA)
GOALKEEPERS: Asdrúbal Meneses (CS Cartaginés), Mario Pérez (Deportivo Saprissa), Emilio Sagot (Orión FC)
DEFENDERS: Mario Cordero (Deportivo Saprissa), Guillermo Hernández (Deportivo Saprissa), Álvaro Mc Donald (CS Herediano), Rodolfo Madriz (CS Cartaginés), Giovanni Rodríguez (Deportivo Saprissa), Alex Sánchez (LD Alajuelense), Édgar Zúñiga (LD Alajuelense)
MIDFIELDERS: Juan José Gámez (LD Alajuelense), Carlos Marín (CS Herediano), Édgar Quesada (CS Herediano), Wílliam Quirós (Deportivo Saprissa)
FORWARDS: Enrique Córdoba (CS Cartaginés), Héctor Coto (CS Cartaginés), Guillermo Elizondo (CS Uruguay), Juan González (LD Alajuelense), Leonel Hernández (CS Cartaginés), Rubén Jiménez (Deportivo Saprissa), Édgar Marín (Deportivo Saprissa), Wálter Pearson (LD Alajuelense), Víctor Luis Vásquez (Deportivo Saprissa).
TD: Alfredo PIEDRA MORA
El Salvador 1963 - Results
Group A - San Salvador
23.03: Guatemala - Panama 2:2; El Salvador - Nicaragua 6:1
25.03: Honduras - Nicaragua 1:0; El Salvador - Panama 1:1
27.03: Guatemala - Nicaragua 3:1; El Salvador - Honduras 2:2
29.03: Panama - Nicaragua 5:0; Honduras - Guatemala 2:1
31.03: El Salvador - Guatemala 1:1; Honduras - Panama 1:0
Group B - Santa Ana
24.03: Costa Rica -Jamaica 6:0; Netherlands Antilles - México 2:1
28.03: México - Jamaica 8:0; Costa Rica - Netherlands Antilles 1:0
30.03: Netherlands Antilles - Jamaica 2:1; Costa Rica - México 0:0
Final Group - San Salvador
03.04: Netherlands Antilles - Honduras 4:1; Costa Rica - El Salvador 4:1
05.04: Costa Rica - Netherlands Antilles 1:0; El Salvador - Honduras 3:0
07.04: El Salvador - Netherlands Antilles 3:2; Costa Rica - Honduras 2:1
Rodrigo A. Calvo Castro writes for La Nación, a newspaper in Costa Rica, and is a distinguished Costa Rican football historian
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