World Cup 2018 is knocking the doors and the 32 participating nations are now highly enthusiastic and fully focused upon completion of club football. They are proud to represent their countries in such a prestigious event and a few of them, despite being the minnows, are set to cause a few upsets. Costa Rica are undoubtedly one of them.
This little Central American country surprised all by progressing through to the quarter-final in 2014 defying the odds and will be hoping to have yet another dream run despite sharing the Group E with Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland.
Team: Costa Rica
Coach: Oscar Ramirez
Captain: Bryan Ruiz
Nickname(s): La Sele / La Muerte/ La Tricolor/ Los Ticos
Last Qualified: 2014
Result in 2014: Quarter-final (Beaten by the Netherlands in tie-breaker)
Qualified From: CONCACAF
Previous World Cup Appearances: (4 Times) 1990, 2002, 2006, 2014
Best World Cup Finals Result: Quarter-finals 2014
The Preliminary Squad:
GOALKEEPERS: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Liga Deportiva Alajuelense), Leonel Moreira (Herediano).
DEFENDERS: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic), Ian Smith (Norrkoping), Ronald Matarrita (New York City), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Johnny Acosta (Aguilas Dorados).
MIDFIELDERS: David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne-Sport), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Rodney Wallace (New York City), Daniel Colindres, Christian Bolanos (both Saprissa), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon).
FORWARDS: Johan Venegas (Saprissa), Joel Campbell (Real Betis), Marco Urena (Los Angeles FC).
1) Bryan Ruiz:
An injury-riddled season saw the Costa Rican remain sidelined time and again, but the 32-year-old attacker is one of the finest on the pitch when fit and will be wearing the armband to lead his nation. The Sporting Lisbon star was sensational in the previous edition of this competition and now must uplift his game to motivate Costa Rica who were not convincing enough during the qualifying rounds.
2) Keylor Navas:
The biggest name of the country who recently won his third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid. The custodian had a glittering stint during the 2014 FIFA World Cup where he protected his side with several top-notch displays between the sticks and made them progress through to the quarter-final despite being down to ten men against Greece in the Round of 16. Navas pulled off multiple quality stops throughout the game and his heroics saw them winning the game 5-3 in tie-breaker.
3) Celso Borges:
The Deportivo La Coruna midfielder had a miserable season in La Liga that saw his side being relegated to Segunda División, but he is one of the veterans of the squad with 108 appearances and also netted 21 times in last 10 years. He will have a massive role to play in the middle of the park where he will be needed to break opponents’ moves, carry the ball forward and set it up in the attacking third with box-to-box movements.
Costa Rica have been far from impressive during the qualifiers where they only managed to defeat the USA and Trinidad & Tobago, who failed to make it to the finals of the competition. They recently won a friendly against Scotland (1-0) but lost to Tunisia four days later. The Ticos, meanwhile, will be contesting Northern Ireland, England and Belgium next month as final preparations and must improve the show to regain confidence.
Costa Rica were drawn in Group E alongside Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland. They will play Serbia in their opening match on 17th of June, followed by Brazil and Switzerland on 22nd and 27th June respectively.
Costa Rica are unlikely to replicate the run of the previous campaign and will have to combat title favorites Brazil alongside two admirable European forces who possess several high-profile names in their squad. It will be an enormous achievement if they make it to the Round of 16 which, however, seems extremely unlikely.
Costa Rica was the first (and so far the only) Central American football team to win a game at a World Cup tournament.
How far do you think Costa Rica will progress? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo by theglobalpanorama