Costa Rica (pictured) lines up prior to its World Cup qualifier at Trinidad & Tobago on November 11, 2016, in Port of Spain. (Photo: CA-Images)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Efficient is the first word that comes to mind when considering Costa Rica’s 2-0 win over host Trinidad & Tobago on Friday in the opening match for each in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Ticos may have gotten second-half goal from Cristian Bolaños and Ronald Matarrita to claim the three points, but their ability gain and maintain possession – as well as make productive substitutions -- proved to be the deciding factors.
“We faced a team with a very strong transition and I believe that ball possession – in which we have grown -- helped us to control, enabling us to take away their momentum,” said Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez. “We tried to have very few problems at the times of transition and it was important to look for the moment to score. We knew well how to manage Trinidad. We took away their strengths and we took advantage of their weaknesses, which was important.”
A key turning point came in the 57th minute, when Ramirez brought on Joel Campbell for Marco Ureña, who spent much of the encounter toiling up front by himself. Campbell was able to take advantage of a tiring T&T defense and was on the field for both goals, initiating an attack that led to Costa Rica’s insurance tally in stoppage time.
“I think there was some fatigue,” commented Ramirez after being asked the reasons why T&T conceded twice in the last 25 minutes. “Our play is of combinations and we made it that Trinidad had to retreat a little bit and not have spaces. The boys had to come back more to find the ball. They have to be mobile. It’s not only that they receive, it’s that there are certain movements to create chances and in small spaces you have to know how to move. For that reason, there was a change to Campbell. We no longer needed Marco’s speed, but rather Joel’s combinations.”
With the win, Costa Rica improved to 14W-3D-0L against the Soca Warriors in World Cup Qualifying.