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Thread: Costa Rica

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    Costa Rica

    Everton defender Bryan Oviedo will not face England at the World Cup this summer after it was confirmed he will not recover from his broken leg in time.

    The Costa Rica full-back broke his tibia and fibula during the FA Cup fourth-round victory at Stevenage in January and was immediately ruled out for the rest of the season but was making good progress to be fit in time for this summer's tournament in Brazil.

    However, Costa Rica team doctor Alejandro Ramirezhas confirmed he will need more recovery time and will not be available to play in the Ticos opening game against Uruguay on 14 June, or either of their subsequent Group D games against Italy or England.

    "Today he was told to do some physical activity on a hard surface and showed some pains during the activity," he told Costa Rican newspaper Al Dia. "It means the player will be in no physical nor medical shape to play the World Cup."

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    Pinto names 26-man squad

    Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto has named a 26-man squad for the FIFA World Cup™ finals in Brazil, with three names to be cut before the competition.

    The Colombian has chosen 11 Europe-based players, led by Fulham midfielder Bryan Ruiz, who is on loan at PSV Eindhoven, and Olympiacos striker Joel Campbell.

    Costa Rica will face England, Italy and Uruguay in Group D, with their first match against the South Americans in Fortaleza on 14 June.

    Hansell Arauz, Esteban Alvarado, Ariel Rodriguez and Jairo Arrieta were named as reserves to complete the 30 names required by FIFA and will not take part of the training camp.

    Costa Rica will play Japan on 2 June and Republic of Ireland four days later, both games in the United States.

    Costa Rica squad

    Goalkeepers:
    Goalkeepers: Keilor Navas (Levante), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Daniel Cambronero (Herediano)

    Defenders:
    Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Michael Umana (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Brugge), Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew), Heiner Mora (Saprissa), Junior Diaz (Mainz), Christian Gamboa (Rosenborg), Roy Miller (Red Bull New York), Kendall Waston (Saprissa)

    Midfielders:
    Celso Borges (AIK), Christian Bolanos (Copenhaguen), Oscar Esteban Granados (Herediano), Michael Barrantes (Aalesund), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Diego Calvo (Valerenga), Jose Miguel Cubero (Herediano), Carlos Hernandez (Wellingtong Phoenix)

    Forwards:
    Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake), Bryan Ruiz (PSV Eindhoven), Joel Campbell (Olympiacos), Randall Brenes (Cartagines), Marco Urena (Kuban Krasnodar)

    * Squad lists are only official once they have been confirmed and published by FIFA on 16 May at 12:00 CET.

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    Gamboa: Ticos can look Suarez in the eye

    “Our defence is key,” Cristian Gamboa, one of Costa Rica’s top young defenders, told FIFA.com. “It’s not like the old days of free, open football,” the Norway-based wide man added, before chuckling: “We’ve been drilled.”

    Costa Rica reached the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ through solid defence. They lost just two of their ten final round games in qualifying and conceded only seven goals, one less than CONCACAF champions USA. When asked which member of the smothering, octopus-like five-man defensive unit is the most important, 24-year-old Gamboa casts a glance past his team-mates on the pitch and over toward the dugout. “Our coach is the chief of defence,” he said, smiling.

    Jorge Luis Pinto is a man with a rigid tactical scheme. And one of the Colombian’s first moves when he took over three years ago, after Costa Rica failed to qualify for South Africa 2010, was to offer Gamboa, barely out of his teens, a debut on the right side of defence.

    The coach brought a new philosophy too. “We used to play free. You know, like Central American-style,” Gamboa admitted, pointing to a shift away from the short-passing, possession football preferred historically in Costa Rica. “We were easy to score on because we drifted forward and left space for the other team to play.”

    Those days are over. But how does a coach achieve such a fundamental shift in culture and style? Gamboa’s answer comes quickly: “It’s been hammered into us,” he said. “Every game, every training session. We stay tight and we break,” added Gamboa, lean and compact, a modern footballer very much in the mould of his idol Dani Alves. “Defence got us through the qualifiers and it’s part of us now.”

    The news that Everton’s gem of a wingback, Bryan Oviedo, lost his fitness battle for the finals in Brazil means that Gamboa will need to adopt more of a pivotal role in the rearguard alongside the likes of Michael Umana and Junior Diaz. Gamboa’s toughened since moving to Scandinavia, what he calls a “complete shock” of culture and style from his humble hometown side Municipal Liberia. “It was a lot colder and a lot more physical,” he added about his short stint in Denmark and his time now with Norwegian giants Rosenborg.

    He trumpets the notion of system over individuals – very much in line with coach Pinto’s plans – but Gamboa takes pains to point out that, in Keylor Navas, Costa Rica have one of the world’s top goalkeepers. Navas stands behind the backline like an insurance policy. “A strong goalkeeper is the foundation to build on. It can make all the difference,” he said of Navas who plays his club football in Spain’s top flight with Levante and has experience taking on the world’s top strikers, like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

    While the CONCACAF Hexagonal has its challenges, the World Cup finals will be the true test of Costa Rica’s rearguard resolve. The Central Americans, playing in their fourth finals, are drawn in one of the tournament’s toughest groups. They will meet some of the world’s top attackers when they square off against Uruguay and European royalty Italy and England – all former world champions.

    True tests to come for Ticos
    Gamboa can hardly stifle a long sigh, a deep intake of breath, when talk turns Costa Rica’s illustrious opponents in Brazil. He stops just short of calling it a nightmare come true. “When we found out, we really couldn’t believe the group we ended up in,” he said. “But you have to grow up at the World Cup. This is the biggest stage,” said the player, one of the first to burst into attack when holes open.

    “If we get our foundations right and if we focus on the methods that got us to Brazil, there’s no reason we can’t look the likes of [Luis] Suarez, [Mario] Balotelli and Wayne Rooney right square in the eyes,” Gamboa went on, a firm resolve in his voice. “It’s 11 on 11 and names don’t always mean a lot on the pitch.”

    Perhaps traumatised by the mention of some of the world’s best strikers, Gamboa was eager to change the subject. “I won’t give the impression that we’re only defence,” he said. “We’re not a desperate team. We break out fast, and when we do, we have some top players.”

    He points first to Bryan Ruiz, the team’s captain and one of Costa Rica’s best-ever creative players. “When we have the ball, he can make anything happen,” Gamboa warned. And up front is the joker in the pack: Joel Campbell. Just 21, the Arsenal loanee proved too speedy and dynamic for most defences in qualifying. “We want him to do the same in Brazil,” he said of Campbell, who racked up Champions League experience this term on loan with Greek giants Olympiacos.

    Gamboa wasn’t even a year old the first time Costa Rica qualified for the World Cup. He won’t remember watching the likes of national icons Gabelo Conejo and Hernan Meford shock the world by reaching the Round of 16 in Italy in 1990. But he’s heard tell of such exploits from family friends and relatives, and he’s hoping to make history of his own. “The World Cup is the dream come true,” he said, suddenly sounding a lot younger than his 24 years. “My fingers are crossed.”

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    Saborio set to miss World Cup

    Costa Rica striker Alvaro Saborio has been ruled out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ after suffering a metatarsal fracture in his right foot.

    The 32-year-old Real Salt Lake forward will need three to four months to recover from the break, according to the MLS club, and can therefore play no part against England, Italy or Uruguay in Group D at Brazil 2014.

    A statement published on Real Salt Lake's official website revealed Saborio had fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot on Thursday while practising with the Costa Rica team at their training camp in San Jose.

    Saborio has scored 32 goals for Costa Rica in 93 appearances and played for his country at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

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    Japan comeback sinks Costa Rica

    Manchester United striker Shinji Kagawa scored the go-ahead goal in the 80th minute on Monday as Japan defeated Costa Rica 3-1 in a 2014 FIFA World Cup™ warm-up friendly for both teams.

    Kagawa stumbled as the ball came to him in the heart of the penalty area but kept his balance and swept a right-footed shot past Costa Rica goalkeeper Keilor Navas to give Japan a 2-1 edge. Yoichiro Kakitani, who came off the bench in the 76th minute, added an insurance goal in stoppage time for Samurai Blue.

    "It was good that we could come back and win after we fell behind," Kagawa said. "We should have scored a goal in the first half. We had good chances. We need to score first in the World Cup because those are going to be tough matches."

    Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz, a striker for Dutch side PSV, opened the scoring in the 31st minute, outracing Japan defender Yasuyuki Konno to a centering pass and flicking the ball into the back of the net. But Yasuhito Endo, a 34-year-old midfielder for Gamba Osaka who entered to start the second half, equalized for Japan in the 60th minute.

    Japanese captain Keisuke Honda left-footed a centering pass to the heart of the penalty area, where onrushing Endo - the oldest man on either roster - blasted a shot into the back of the net.

    "Our condition was good and we played with a positive mentality," Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said. "For the rest of the time until the World Cup we will focus on improving the players' mentality and on finishing goals. Kagawa and Honda, they played well. They both needed some time to get used to the game but they played well."

    Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said the match had World Cup-level intensity. "We had our World Cup rhythm," Pinto said. "We were counter-attacking and moving the ball well, a high pressure, a World Cup feel. We played as intensely as we could."

    But Zaccheroni said Japan's attacking style paid off at the end by draining the Ticos of energy for the vital final minutes. "We made a lot of chances," he said. "We kept making them run and pass the ball and they got tired and we dominated the game - eventually."

    After a last tune-up on Friday in Tampa against Zambia, Japan will fly to Brazil on Saturday and open Group C on 14 June against Côte d'Ivoire with later matches against Greece and Colombia.

    Costa Rica, which plays a final warm-up friendly against Republic of Ireland on Friday at Philadelphia, was drawn into Group D against England, Uruguay and Italy. The Ticos open their World Cup against Uruguay on 14 June.

    "We were able to create but our middle was exposed and certainly the defence made some bad decisions on the second and third goals," Pinto said. "We made some mistakes. It's a process. Some of our players will look to improve in the next week. "

    Japan hoped to gain some insight into Colombia by facing a Costa Rican side guided by Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto, who once coached his homeland's squad. Costa Rica sought similar information about Italy from playing against Japan, coached by Italian Alberto Zaccheroni.

    And both teams hoped to adapt to the heat and humidity of Brazil by playing in similar conditions before 7,106 at the Florida home stadium of American football's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Costa Rica, reeling from the loss of star scorer Alvaro Saborio to a broken right foot and left back Bryan Oviedo to a broken leg, tested new starters. Joel Campbell, the Olympiacos striker who at 21 was the youngest man on the pitch, got the nod up front while Junior Diaz, a 30-year-old for German side Mainz, received the back line call.

    Japan open brightly
    Time and again the Asian champions pressed the attack in the first half only to come away empty. Each team created solid scoring chances early but Ruiz was wide right in the opening seconds, Yoshida Okubo fired high of the goal in the second minute and Yeltsin Tejeda's blast from atop the penalty area was denied by Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima in the third.

    Yuya Osako nodded a centering pass over the crossbar in the 11th minute and moments later Kagawa evaded defender Michael Umana in the middle but fired a right-footed shot wide. Honda blasted shot off the right post in the 24th minute and Okubo forced a diving stop by Navas in the 25th.

    Honda was again thwarted in the 27th minute after evading Navas, who had strayed far from the goal to challenge him. Ticos defender Giancarlo Gonzalez beat Honda to the ball and cleared it from danger before the blonde Japanese star could take aim at the open net.

    Hotaru Yamaguchi forced another tough save by Navas in the 29th minute and Kagawa yet another in the 41st minute. Kawashima came to the top edge of the area and leaned over the line to head away a danger ball on a Ruiz breakaway in the 44th minute, the Costa Rica star eventually sending a header wide to end the threat.

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    Costa Rica's Saborio ruled out

    Alvaro Saborio has been left out of Costa Rica's squad for the FIFA World Cup™ after breaking his foot.

    The Real Salt Lake striker was not on the 23-man list widely circulated on Tuesday morning, with Everton's Bryan Oviedo also out with a broken leg.

    Costa Rica, who are alongside England, Italy and Uruguay in Group D, have named Arsenal's Joel Campbell and Fulham's Bryan Ruiz in their party.

    They face England on June 24 and will play the Republic of Ireland in a friendly this weekend.

    Costa Rica squad:

    Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Patrick Pemberton, Daniel Cambronero.
    Defenders: Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Umana, Oscar Duarte, Waylon Francis, Heiner Mora, Junior Diaz, Christian Gamboa, Roy Miller.
    Midfielders: Celso Borges, Christian Bolanos, Esteban Granados, Michael Barrantes, Yeltsin Tejeda, Diego Calvo, Jose Miguel Cubero.
    Strikers: Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Randall Brenes, Marco Urena.

    * Squad lists are only official once they have been confirmed and published by FIFA on 5 June at 12:00 CET.

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    Gonzalez: History's in our grasp

    Though his name might not be the first to come up when discussing the virtues of the Costa Rica side that will run out at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, there can be no doubting the importance of Giancarlo Gonzalez to coach Jorge Luis Pinto’s plans.
    That much was clear on the road to Brazil, when the centre-half, along with Los Ticos’ star goalkeeper Keylor Navas, spent more time on the pitch than anyone.

    Willowy, quick on his feet and effective in the air at both ends of the pitch, the man they call Pipo was a cornerstone of the defensive wall that smoothed Costa Rica’s progress through the Brazil 2014 qualifiers.

    Yet while the Central Americans made relatively serene progress in the final Hexagonal round, their path to the knockout rounds at the world finals looks to be anything but easy, not with Uruguay, England and Italy providing the opposition in Group D.
    Discussing that onerous challenge in detail, the commanding centre-half sat down for an exclusive chat with FIFA.com.

    A solid foundation
    You only have to look at Costa Rica’s statistics from the final six-team qualifying round to see the effectiveness of their defence. In their ten games, Los Ticos conceded a mere seven goals, no small achievement considering regional heavyweights Mexico and USA, with their much-vaunted front lines, featured among the opposition.

    “The feeling I get is that there’s not such a big difference between teams any more, not just in the CONCACAF Zone, but in general, around the world,” the defender said. “You get some very close scorelines now. The USA and Mexico used to qualify easily, but that just doesn’t happen now. This time around Costa Rica qualified in second place and Mexico struggled, all because the standard is higher now.”

    'Organised' and 'intelligent' are the words that Gonzalez uses to describe the style of play that took the Costa Ricans to that second place, with only the Americans above them in the table.

    Based in the United States with Major League Soccer's Colombus Crew, the stopper said: “We know how to make the most of our attributes and we are also aware that we’ve got our weaknesses, though we’re looking to address them. We did a good job because we achieved what we set out to do, which was to reach the World Cup.”

    As well as a collective triumph, Costa Rica’s qualification for Brazil 2014 also proved a coming of age for the 26-year-old defender.

    El Profe Pinto gave me my chance and I’ve been able to consolidate my place in the team because of that. I feel I’ve made the most of it,” explained Gonzalez, who spent the 2012/13 season with Norwegian club Valerenga. “I also played in Europe while the qualifiers were going on, and I tried to harness the exposure I had there to raise my performance levels with the national team. All in all, it was a very important year for me.”

    Eyes on the prize
    With Brazil 2014 just days away now, Gonzalez and his Tico team-mates are thinking about nothing else but Uruguay, England and Italy: “This is the ‘group of death’. No one’s under any illusions about that. Our three opponents are all big teams and they’ve all won the World Cup before. But like we said, this is a whole new story. We are going to give it our very best shot, and we’re excited at the prospect of doing well in Brazil and doing our country proud.”

    Excited yet committed and dedicated to the task in hand, the Costa Ricans are thinking big, hopeful that they can be one of the surprise packages of the group phase.

    “I know my team-mates and how much work we’re putting in,” said the defensive mainstay. “I’m confident in my qualities and those of the team as a whole. We’re going to give everything to make the next round. That’s what we want to do: make history.

    Italy 1990 was the only time we’ve managed it, but this team knows all about setting and achieving goals.”

    And on a personal level, Gonzalez could not be more motivated: “This is what every professional footballer aspires to: to play in a World Cup. And what better place to do it in than a football country like Brazil?”

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    Gonzalez clear for Costa Rica

    Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzalez will not miss the first three games of his country's FIFA World Cup™ campaign after being sent off for violent conduct. The 26-year-old defender was dismissed 41 minutes into the 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland in Philadelphia during the early hours of Saturday morning for swinging an elbow at striker Kevin Doyle.

    However under FIFA rules, the repercussions of his red card will not come into force until Costa Rica's next friendly, meaning he is free to play in Brazil. The regulations state in relation to the sending off: "Friendly matches: (suspension) carried over to the representative team's next friendly match." Gonzalez was reprimanded by manager Jorge Luis Pinto and told to learn his lesson in the immediate aftermath of the game at PPL Park.

    The game was Costa Rica's last before they open their campaign against Uruguay in Fortaleza on 14 June before meeting remaining Group D rivals Italy and England.

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    Ticos suffer Mora blow

    Costa Rica have suffered a pre-FIFA World Cup™ blow after full-back Heiner Mora withdrew from the Costa Rica squad because of a broken heel. The 29-year-old suffered the injury in a training session on Tuesday at their base in Santos.

    Los Ticos, who have called up Dave Myrie as a replacement, begin their campaign against Copa America champions Uruguay on Saturday. Myrie, 26, made his international debut in 2010 but has had a nomadic club career taking in 10 clubs in four different countries. The Costa Ricans, whose best performance at a World Cup was reaching the last 16 in 1990, also play Italy and England.

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    Costa Rica to make changes against England

    Costa Rica may need just a point against England on Tuesday to secure top spot in Group D but coach Jorge Luis Pinto will still ring the changes, assistant boss Paulo Wanchope said on Sunday. Costa Rica have been one of the major surprises at the FIFA World Cup™ so far, beating both Uruguay and Italy to secure their passage to the Round of 16 before facing England. If they avoid defeat they will be assured of topping the group but Costa Rica will have one eye on the knock-out rounds and Wanchope, who scored in both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, says they will give some fringe players a chance.

    "The first thing is to manage our emotions. We've already qualified but it is important to look forward, it's important to keep growing as a team," said the 37-year-old former Derby County, West Ham United and Manchester City forward. Wanchope said there would be changes to "give some other players some football. It's important to give some football to those who don't normally get any and also to see how they fit into the system."

    While it is always considered advantageous to win your group, Costa Rica full-back Christian Gamboa said his side wouldn't see it as a disadvantage to come second as they would likely face Colombia in the Round of 16. "If we get Colombia, the professor (Pinto) knows them really well, he knows everything about his country and so we could have something of an advantage," said Gamboa.

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