ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
|After almost messing up everything in the semifinal groupstage, Costa Rica won six of its last seven games in the Concacaf
final group and qualified comfortably because of that.
here for details
|Participations: (1) 1990
|Best placing: Second round 1990
|Topscorers: Roger Flores, Ronald
Gonzales, Juan Cayasso and Hernan Medford, 1 goal
|Paolo Wanchope is an unpredictable leggy forward
who has always been a reliable goalscorer for his country. He had success in the
Copa America last year and the fans hope he can continue his form also on the
VERDICT: First round exit
|Costa Rica will probably challenge Turkey
for that second spot behind Brazil. They were huge outsiders in 1990 as well - their
only other appearance - and squeezed through then also in a group with Brazil,
but not this time.
PREPARED TO SHOCK AGAIN
by Peter Goldstein
Costa Rica was the revelation of the CONCACAF qualifiers. For many years,
they were the most exciting but most erratic team in the region; now, under
coach Alexandre Guiamares, veteran of the World Cup squad of 1990, they play
with precision and control without losing any of their natural enthusiasm.
(Now this is a modern coach -- he's got his own website! Check it out at
www.aguima.com) They're still by nature an attacking team, but they know how
to get a result as well, and they won the Hexagonal going away. The 1990
squad is still regarded with considerable affection, but with a settled
lineup and a roster of experienced internationals, this looks like Costa
Rica's best side ever.
But there's a cloud over the team right now: striker Paulo Wanchope, their
best player, has been struggling with a knee injury, and he may not be ready
in June. A superbly skilled player with magical technique, he can play back
to goal or come right at you, and can score breathtaking goals at any time.
He'll be a big loss. More bad news on the striker front: Hernan Medford, one
of the stars of 1990, still pacy and intelligent, is also doubtful with a
Fortunately, forward is Costa Rica's deepest position, and there are still
two fine veterans in the pool. Rolando Fonseca is agile, an instinctive
passer and finisher, and has scored more than 35 international goals. In the
past he's played just behind the strikers, but recently has gone up top as
well, with no loss of effectiveness. Then there's Ronald "The Bullet" Gomez,
who plays for OFI Crete in Greece. He's a big man but surprisingly deft,
with a great workrate and a powerful left foot, and can play withdrawn
forward as well. Also in the picture now is new face Oscar Rojas, another
mobile striker with good ball skills.
Midfield is solid and deep. In Guiamares' 3-5-2, the lone defensive
midfielder is Mauricio Solis, strong and a good tackler, who distributes
well enough to play an effective role in attack as well. Two playmaking
midfielders are veteran Wilmer Lopez and youngster Walter Centeno; although
neither is a world-class number 10, both are consistent dribblers and
passers who can score as well. Centeno tends to play from a bit farther
back. If Wanchope is out, both might make the starting eleven. Right
wingback should be Harold Wallace, a good tackler with lots of pace in
attack, but only average technically. Carlos Castro, on the left, a veteran
of Costa Rica's youth squads, has less speed but better technique.
Defense isn't exactly the weak point; it just doesn't have the depth of the
other areas. In the middle of the back line is Luis Marin; sometimes he'll
play as a zonal marker, but other times he'll be a full-blown libero, moving
up regularly to support the attack. At times he's vulnerable to speedy
attackers. On the right is Reynaldo Parks, the captain: a good man-marker,
he's solid and consistent without being spectacular. On the left is the most
talented of all, Gilberto Martinez. With his long flowing hair, he's hard to
miss: an aggressive and precise tackler and first-class marker. At times he
can get a bit too aggressive and find himself out of position, but his
natural skills usually allow him to recover. At 22, he's already one of the
top defenders in the region. The best of the rest right now are Austin Berry
on the left and Jervis Drummond on the right.
The keeper is 36-year old Erick Lonnis, who recaptured his longtime starting
role during the qualifiers. He's good but not great, and at times comes off
the line a bit too far; on the other hand, he can be spectacular both in
saves and clearances. Second choice is probably Alvaro Mesen; he's a good
all-rounder, but Lonnis' experience figures to put him between the posts in
CONCACAF isn't the strongest region around, and of course Costa Rica isn't
as talented as Argentina. It's safe to say they won't win the World Cup. But
they play Latin American football at its best: quick passes on the ground,
with plenty of technique and lots of scope for individual flair. On their
day, they can challenge any team in the world, and best of all, they seem to
enjoy doing it. One more cautionary note: the team trainer says some of the
players seem fatigued from too much action, and efforts to get Costa Rican
clubs to cut down the schedule have been unsuccessful. Let's hope Wanchope
and company are ready to go -- because if everyone's healthy and in form,
they'll make a lot of new fans in Korea and Japan.
A BRIEF WORLD CUP HISTORY
by Jan Alsos
Few people gave Costa Rica hopes when they were drawn with
Brazil, Sweden and Scotland for their only World Cup appearance in 1990. They proved to
be made of sterner stuff than most experts thought after beating Scotland in their first game. A
narrow defeat to Brazil came before Sweden was beaten after coming from behind in a
decisive match. Even though they lost big against Czechoslovakia in the second round, the
Costa Ricans more than justified their right to be at the World Cup which so many of the
experts had doubted before the tournament.
Info on how
the World Cup was founded and about the trophy as well.
on every match in every tournament.
Interesting columns about the past, present and future of the World Cup.
with appearances in the World Cup. Detailed info on every country.
of many of the most influential players in history.
An A-Z collection
of strange and different stories in World Cup history.
A big collection
of various statistics and records.
since it was introduced in 1966.
knowledge about the WC. Three different levels. No prizes, just for fun.
lots of stuff. For instance Best Goals, Best Players and Best Matches.
of links to other soccer sites with World Cup connection.
and buttons for you to link to us if you want.
A little information
on who keeps this site available.