Costa Rica (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on February 23, 2017, in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Straffon Images)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- When Randall Leal’s perfectly struck free kick squeezed just inside the post to the right of Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Montel Joseph in the 54th minute, it was if a massive weight had been lifted off Costa Rica’s shoulders.
With the added pressure of playing at home in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship -- and after an opening game loss to El Salvador -- the expectation only mounted as each moment without a goal passed.
“You see the goal was a relief then after that we got a lot more scoring chances,” said Costa Rica head coach Marcelo Herrera, following the match. “We were able to create a lot during the game, but obviously we weren’t able to capitalize when we tried to score again.
“But I’m really sure and convinced of the ability and quality of the guys.”
Just to keep things scoreless in the first half, Tico goalkeeper Mario Sequeira pulled off a couple of saves on Trinidad’s best scoring chances that came in the opening 15 minutes.
There was also some last gasp defending to preserve the clean sheet and Costa Rica’s first three points of the competition.
“I’m very happy with the work of my players,” Herrera expressed. “The result of tonight’s game really belongs to them.”
With the conclusion of Group C play on Saturday, depending on the result of the opener between El Salvador (6 points) and Trinidad & Tobago (1 pt.), Costa Rica (3 pts.) may need another win against Bermuda (1 pt.).
The plucky Bermudians still have their own qualification hopes alive, picking up a point from T&T (1-1) and falling to El Salvador (1-3).
“Bermuda was third place in the Caribbean tournament and we’ve got videos of all their games,” finished Herrera. “We’ve followed this team and know what they have based on the information we could find. We’ve got information on Bermuda and now we’ve seen both games that they have played. This gives us a clear idea of who we’re dealing with.”