Costa Rica players (pictured) celebrate after scoring in a World Cup qualifier against host Panama on November 17, 2015, in Panama City. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – By gaining just a point in its last two fourth-round matches, Costa Rica can advance to the CONCACAF Hexagonal in qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Ticos top Group B with a 3W-1D-0L record and will face host Haiti (0-1-3, 1) on Friday, before welcoming second-place Panama (2-1-1, 7) to the Estadio Nacional on September 6.
Though it’s unbeaten through four matches and – barring uncharacteristic -- advancement is all but certain, the current Central American champion is taking nothing for granted.
“You have to have calmness, but we cannot relax,” said defender Francisco Calvo, who is hoping to make his WCQ debut. “Sometimes there are teams that find themselves in situations where they relax and things happen that do not have to happen. We do not have that mentality. We want to go to win, which is the team’s objective and, in addition, we know with a point we are in the Hexagonal.”
The 24-year-old added that he expects a difficult encounter in Haiti despite the fact that the home side has just one point and no goals thus far.
“I think the match is going to be similar to the one in Jamaica (1-1 draw),” Calvo commented. “It is a difficult pitch. They are dangerous for us as group leader and fighting for the Hexagonal. I think it is going to be a tough match.”
Costa Rica is a perfect 3-0-0 all-time against Haiti in World Cup qualifiers, including a 1-0 win in their last meeting on November 13, 2015. Cristian Gamboa – recently acquired by Scotland’s Celtic – scored the only goal in the 28th minute.