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#Brazinga2014: World Cup Team Profile - Costa Rica

Saturday, 5 July 2014 - 11:40pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: AFP

Costa Rica topped their group which consisted of heavyweights like Uruguay, England and Italy. They beat Greece in their round of 16 on penalties and now face a resurgent Netherlands side in the quarter finals.

Costa Rica's Colombian coach Jorge Pinto, who has been at the helm since September 2011 had been hoping for what he called a balanced group, but unfortunately for the Central Americans the draw was tough on them, with Uruguay, Italy and England all coming out of the pot with Costa Rica.

AFP

Costa Rica shocked the world by topping the Group of Death which included Uruguay, England and Italy. They beat Uruguay in their opener 3-1 and then beat Italy by a 1-0 scoreline. In their final game, they were involved in a drub 0-0 game against England. Costa Rica would be brimming with confidence when they face fellow underdogs Greece in their round of 16 match.

Country Profile:

Population:  4.7 million

Area:  51,100 km2

Capital:  San Jose

Currency:  Colon

Federation:  Costa Rican Football Federation founded in 1921, affiliated to Fifa in 1927.

Registered players:  61,000

Colours:  Red shirt, blue shorts and white socks

World Cup appearances:  4 (1990, 2002, 2006, 2014).

World Cup record:  Second round (1990), first round (2002, 2006).

Gold Cup (ex-CONCACAF Cup):  Winner (1963, 1969, 1989), finalist (2002), 3rd (1965, 1971, 1985, 1993), 4th (1991, 2003, 2009).

AFP

How they qualified:  Came 2nd in final qualifying group with 18pts behind the United States on 22 points, ahead of Honduras 15pts, Mexico 11, Panama 8 and Jamaica 5 with 5 wins, 3 draws, 2 defeats 13 goals for and 7 against.

Top clubs:  Deportivo Saprissa, CS Herediano, LD Alajuelense, CS Cartaginense.

Key players:  Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Keylor Navas, Christian Bolanos.

Coach:  Jorge Pinto (since September 2011)

Costa Rica clinched their ticket for the 2014 World Cup with a strong qualifying campaign, coming second behind the United States in the final qualifying round thanks to a series of five victories in San Jose and beating the United States and Mexico on the way. Observers say the team is balanced throughout the lines and that, thanks to so many of their players starring in the European Leagues, their technical and tactical skills are on a level with some of the big guns.

AFP

Pinto, who coached Costa Rica without much success between 2004-2005, can bank on a cast-iron defence that only let in seven goals in the final round of qualifying, perhaps thanks largely to their goalkeeper Keylor Navas of Levante. Two of their defenders, Geancarlo Gonzalez and Cristian Gamboa were both in Norway until recently with Gonzalez returning this season to Columbus Crew. In midfield the captain Bryan Ruiz in on loan at PSV Eindhoven and is flanked by Celso Borges who plays in Sweden and Christian Bolanos of FC Copenhagen. Two handy strikers always help a team look good and that is what Costa Rica have in Alvaro Saborio, who plies his trade with US outfit Real Salt Lake and who scored eight goals in qualifying, and the youngster Joel Campbell, 22, who is on loan from Arsenal to Olympiakos. Nevertheless, only an optimist is likely to believe tha even a balanced team such as this one will be good enough to escape from a group featuring three former World Cup winners.


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