El Salvador, Costa Rica generous with CU20 praise

Action from the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship game between host Costa Rica and El Salvador (white jersey) on February 19, 2017, in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Carlos Borbon/Straffon Images)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Even after his side picked up a 1-0 victory over host Costa Rica on Sunday evening at the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, El Salvador head coach Eduardo Lara could do little else but to congratulate his opponent.

Costa Rica had very nearly taken the lead moments before El Salvador’s 65th minute game-winner from Roberto Dominguez and, even after Esteban Gonzalez’s 83rd-minute dismissal left the Ticos down a man, it looked like El Salvador’s three richly earned points were far from secure.

“Congratulations to Costa Rica because they have a good squad and have worked hard in this game,” said Lara, who guided the senior squad to a third-place finish in last month’s Copa Centroamericana. “It’s tough to analyze Costa Rica’s game and their players’ positions. We’ve spent many hours studying because Costa Rica has many systems.”

After failing to qualify for the competition two years ago in Jamaica, Costa Rica was obviously hoping for a better start at home, but much like their counterparts, there was a lot of respect for the team on the other side of the field.

“We are sorry for the result because we had many hours of preparation for this game,” said Costa Rica head coach Marcelo Herrera. “El Salvador had the better team. El Salvador had more possession of the ball in the game. It was difficult for Costa Rica in the game and we could not score. In general, the game was difficult and we’ll try to do better in the next game.”

Lara pointed out that one win does not make the tournament for El Salvador, adding that qualification for the World Cup is the priority. The same goes for Costa Rica, which may have lost the first game, but has more than enough talent and experience to secure a place in the next round.