Central American Cup repeat effort will test Costa Rica

Costa Rica (pictured) trains in Washington, D.C. on September 2, 2014, a day before its Central American Cup opener against Nicaragua.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite a brilliant campaign at the 2014 FIFA World Cup that concluded less than two months, Costa Rica interim head coach Paulo Cesar Wanchope realizes that it will not be easy for his team to repeat as the Central American Cup champion.

The 2014 edition of the competition starts for the Ticos on Wednesday against Nicaragua at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C.

With the exception of Joel Campbell, the entire squad trained for two hours on Tuesday at Catholic University.

"After the performance at the World Cup in Brazil, there is a commitment to continue in this direction,” said Wanchope, a Costa Rica national team great himself.  “Our message to the players is that there is always room to evolve, not settle and it's a nice opportunity for Costa Rica to continue to grow.”

Wanchope, who took the reins from Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto following the World Cup, admitted that his managerial debut comes with great responsibility.

"It is a very important challenge personally and for Costa Rica because all that was done in the World Cup,” expressed the 38-year-old.  “We are aware of this and I assume much eagerness keeping all the details to work for the progress of Costa Rican football ".

Though Wanchope understands that many observers view Costa Rica as the favorite to win an eighth Central American Cup, he feels no undo pressure.

"Throughout history we have always been called to win the regional tournament, we understand that and do not deviate that responsibility,” continued the former Manchester City standout.  “But we also understand that we must earn it on the field, show it, and each player is aware of it."

In their last Central American Cup meeting on January 20, 2013, Costa Rica posted a 2-0 win over Nicaragua.  Wanchope, however, is taking nothing for granted.

"I expect a fierce Nicaragua,” he finished.  “We know the progress that they have made in the process of their current coach (Enrique Llena).

“We have prepared the best possible way for that first game."