Costa Rica head Oscar Ramirez (pictured) observes proceedings during a Copa Centroamericana match against Honduras on January 20, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – While Costa Rica’s hopes of a third straight Copa Centroamericana title and ninth overall came to an end in Friday’s 1-1 draw against Honduras, head coach Óscar Ramírez is feeling more positive about the team’s future.
Many of the players featuring prominently in the Ticos’ qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, such as Sporting Lisbon attacker and 2016 CONCACAF Player of the Year Bryan Ruiz, were not selected for the squad currently competing in Panama.
Instead, the roster largely consists of locally-based players from Costa Rica’s Primera Division, including five players making their debuts in the competition (MF Ulises Segura, DF Jhamir Ordain, DF Juan Pablo Vargas, MF Gerson Torres and DF Kenner Gutiérrez).
All told, the progress shown by Costa Rica’s more internationally inexperienced performers has given Ramirez reason for optimism.
“I was interested to see the other players and see players of the future, and I take with me a good impression of the match against Honduras, for the intensity, the desire and for not giving up, coming back from a deficit and even continuing to look for more,” said Ramirez. “I don’t know if in two months we will play a similar match against Honduras (in World Cup Qualifying), and I wanted to see the reaction of the boys.
Costa Rica takes a 1W-3D-0L record into Sunday’s finale with host Panama (2-1-1). It has secured a place in this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and can finish anywhere from second to fourth in the standings.
Ramirez, despite his overall Copa satisfaction, isn’t ready to make an absolute assessment.
“Time will tell if all this work will be worth it,” he finished.