Costa Rica (pictured) trains at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, USA, on June 3, 2016. (Photo: Mexsport)
ORLANDO, Florida – According to defender Kendall Waston, Costa Rica winning the Copa America Centenario is a realistic goal, especially since it reached the quarterfinals of the last FIFA World Cup.
The 28-year-old was not on that now-vaunted 2014 squad, but has been involved in qualifying for Russia 2018. He believes knows that getting off to good start with three points on Saturday against Paraguay could prove vital.
“After Brazil, we reached a status and we have to maintain it and try to better it,” said Waston. “We have an argument to be champion. It is not going to be easy, but in life there is nothing easy, so we are fighting and we want that objective.
“We have to win this match no matter what. We view it like a final and, hopefully, Costa Rica can demonstrate good football, but the most important is to win no matter how.”
Waston believes that the margin of error will be thin against a Paraguay side known for its stinginess. The South Americans have allowed only six goals in as many World Cup qualifiers – third fewest among the 10 teams -- shutting out Venezuela and Argentina.
Despite Costa Rica’s own strong start to the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying (3W-1D-0L, first place in Group B), Waston sees room for improvement; even with a defense that has conceded just twice in four WCQ outings.
“To be good defensively is very key in these matches, the smallest error can be converted,” Waston commented. “On offense, we are going to try to be more decisive because many times we can have three or four runs and perhaps finish one. That can be the key of the match, so we cannot fail to take advantage of one.”
Costa Rica and Paraguay will have the opportunity to watch Group A rivals United States play Colombia on Friday night before they meet at Camping World Stadium.
With five squad members on the roster of North American teams, the Central American champion may be more prepared for temperatures forecasted to be in the low 90s.
“I don’t know if it will be some type of advantage because, sincerely, it is hot enough here compared to Canada,” finished Waston, who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps, a 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League qualifier. “It affects the two teams equally and there are times on the pitch when one forgets about it and tries to do as best as possible.”