Costa Rica's Giancarlo Gonzalez (pictured) appeared in five matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – With a 1-0 victory on September 2 against Haiti, Costa Rica (4W-1D-0L, 13 points) booked a ticket for the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Ticos can wrap-up first place in Group B with a draw on Tuesday, when it completes fourth-round play at the Estadio Nacional against visiting second-place Panama (3-1-1, 10).
While both sides will move on to the Hexagonal regardless of the final result, defender Giancarlo Gonzalez believes that competition for spots in the starting 11 will continue to push Costa Rica towards success.
“We are all at a high level at which everyone can play,” said the 28-year-old Palermo standout. “It’s time for changes and the ones that come in pushing, we are going to fight for a place. We know that absences of some teammates are coming and, for some, it’s our turn to play and we have to give it our all. For that, we are here and we have to contribute to the national team.”
Even though Costa Rica can afford a narrow loss to Panama and still top the table at the end of the night, Gonzalez believes it is important to play for the win in front of the home fans.
“We have to give it our all,” he finished. “We are playing for the country, for first place and we have to give it our all. We are all prepared.”
In their first meeting last November, Costa Rica posted a 2-1 win at Panama on goals by Bryan Ruiz and Marco Ureña.