Costa Rica Sports News – Costa Rica are looking for redemption in Brazil. Los Ticos were eliminated in the playoff round of qualifying for South Africa 2010 by Uruguay, who they will meet in Group D this summer.
Many will argue Group D is the toughest in the competition, with England and Italy Costa Rica’s two other opponents. Costa Rica are the clear underdogs in this fight, with their opponents’ winning seven World Cups between them.
Los Ticos have seen four World Cups in their lifetime, the most successful being Italy 1990, the only year in which they made it out of the group stage. There was no repeat in 2002, but considering they’d failed to win a spot in the previous two finals, it was better than nothing.
They were eliminated in the group stage again in 2006, and finished with an embarrassing ranking of 31st out of 32 teams. 2009 brought heartbreak when a rocky qualifying campaign ended with Uruguay knocking them out 2-1 on aggregate, depriving Costa Rica of a place in South Africa.
After finishing second in Concacaf qualifying behind the United States ahead of this year’s tournament, they’ll play Uruguay first in in their grudge match, after the bitter disappointment of 2009. It’s Italy next, then an unfamiliar foe in England, a country they’ve never previously played against.
The most familiar name that comes to mind for England fans when they think about Costa Rica is Paulo Wanchope, who spent eight years in the Premier League with Derby County, West Ham United, and Manchester City.
Currently serving as the assistant coach to the Ticos’ manager Jorge Luis Pinto, he played and scored in two previous World Cups and is second in goals scored for Costa Rica with 45 in 73 appearances.
Wanchope will be helping to coach a talented group of players including Everton’s Bryan Oviedo, Arsenal’s Joel Campbell (on loan at Olympiakos) and Bryan Ruiz of Fulham.
Campbell has had a great season in Greece, and Oviedo is a cult hero at Everton. Ruiz on the other hand, has been struggling for playing time at Fulham and recently left the London club to join PSV Eindhoven on loan.
That trio are crucial if Costa Rica are to pull off a surprise and advance out of their group. They will be aided by talents like Celso Borges, Roy Miller and Álvaro Saborío technical players with an added element of physicality to their style of play.
If history repeats itself, we’ll see Costa Rica put up a fight and finish close-third in their group.
By Kim Tate, telegraph.co.uk