Head coach Oscar Ramirez (pictured) has Costa Rica atop the CONCACAF Hexagonal table after two rounds of games. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Straffon Images)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez is one of the rare individuals with an ability to say that he has a perfect record as the visiting manager at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca.
In his lone match at the famed venue, Ramirez led Alajuelense to a 1-0 win over Club America on the last week of 2013/14 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League group-stage play. The result eliminated the host from the competition and confirmed the Manudos’ place in the quarterfinals.
Now in charge of Costa Rica, Ramirez will be looking to achieve a similar feat on Friday, when his team faces Mexico on matchday three in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The Ticos (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) top the Hexagonal table with maximum points from two games, while Mexico is second with four points.
“They are different circumstances,” said Ramirez at a Wednesday press conference, after being asked about the momentous triumph against Club America. “What it was with [Alajuelense] was a group that had been coming together. The boys had a great performance.”
While Ramirez was hesitant to say that his experience of winning at the Azteca could be a factor Friday, the former Costa Rica international believes his squad is well prepared for the encounter.
“They are always different things, in that moment it was a team and it was difficult because it was to play against America,” the 52-year-old finished. “I feel that now years have gone by, I think studying the opponent gives you tranquility of taking the match as it comes. We have done serious study and we have sent that to the player.”