Costa Rica (pictured) sits second after four matchdays in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Adid Jimenez/Straffon Images)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rica officially launched Monday its training camp ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Panama (June 8, home) and Trinidad & Tobago (June 13, away).
CONCACAF.com takes a look at the side hoping to make a fifth appearance on the global stage at Russia 2018:
STATE OF AFFAIRS
- Currently sits second place in the final round of CONCACAF with a 2W-1D-1L (7 GF, 3 GA), trailing first-place Mexico by three points.
- Three of opening four Hexagonal matches were played on the road.
- Camp kicked off with many foreign-based stars in attendance, including 2016 CONCACAF Player of the Year Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Joel Campbell (Sporting Lisbon) and Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruña). The trio has combined to score five of the team’s 18 goals during qualifying for Russia 2018.
- Head coach Oscar Ramirez will not have his full team until June 6, when goalkeeper Keylor Navas is set to arrive after his Real Madrid side faces Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday.
- In two fourth-round qualifiers contested between them, Costa Rica is a perfect 2-0-0 against Panama.
- On November 17, 2015, Costa Rica earned a 2-1 win at Panama thanks to goals by Ruiz (66’) and Marco Ureña (69’). In their second meeting, on September 6, 2016, the Ticos posted a 3-1 at home with Christian Bolaños (18’, 79’) scoring twice and Ronald Matarrita (84’)netting the other.
- Christian Bolaños leads the team in scoring for Russia 2018 with four goals. Ruiz, Campbell, Matarrita and Johan Venegas are tied for second on two goals each.
HE SAID IT
- Defender Bryan Oviedo: “They are two vital matches that we have to win, since we are halfway through the qualifying. If we get these six points, we are going to be a bit more relaxed for the upcoming matches and have a much better chance of qualifying for the World Cup.”