Action from the under-20 international friendly between host Costa Rica and Canada (white jersey) on September 3, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Federación Costarricense de Fútbol)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rica hasn’t played in the FIFA U-20 World Cup since 2011, when John Jairo Ruiz (3) and Joel Campbell (2) combined to score five of the side’s six goals over the course of four games in Colombia.
The Ticos will look to change that course next year as it hosts the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship for the first-ever time. With four places at India 2017 at stake, head coach Marcelo Herrera is ready to get to work.”
“It forces us to make a commitment, which we will assume,” said the 50-year-old. “It’s a nice commitment. We are preparing to be able to get the spot which we all want in order to be able to go to the World Cup, that’s the hope and dream we all have.
“All of the teams are preparing themselves in the same way. All of the teams are after the same objective. There are only four that can achieve it. We are going to try to get ourselves in that select group.”
At the competition’s draw on November 29, Costa Rica discovered that it will face El Salvador (February 19), Trinidad & Tobago (Feb. 22) and Bermuda (Feb. 25) in Group C. The top two teams from each of three groups will progress to a classification of two groups of three. The top two teams from each of those trios will book a ticket to the U-20 World Cup.
“You have to play the matches,” Herrera stressed. “We have to be calm and continue working until the date arrives for the start of the tournament. We are aware of the opponents. Each one has their strengths. They are all difficult. We awaited the draw with a lot of anticipation, but regardless of the opponents we are very relaxed.”
Hererra went to give a brief scouting report on each opponent, saying: “Trinidad keeps the ball very well. El Salvador comes in having done interesting work in international football in the last year…same with Bermuda. So, they are all opponents to fear. There is not much difference among them. You have to play the games in order to search for the objective that we all want.”
A return to the U-20 World Cup will suit Costa Rica just fine.