Costa Rica has returned to world cup-2014 after failing to qualify in 2010. Los Ticos, the most successful Central American team will be featuring for the 4th time in the FIFA’s showpiece event.
The Ticos’ campaign to qualify for the 2014 FIFA world cup began in June with a 2–2 draw against El Salvador. The Ticos followed this up with a 4–0 win over Guyana with a hat-trick by Álvaro Saborío. In September, Costa Rica hit a bump in the road with 2–0 and 1–0 defeats to rivals Mexico, putting the Ticos one defeat away of being eliminated. On 12 October, Costa Rica resurrected their campaign with a 1–0 win against El Salvador with the only goal scored by Jose Miguel Cubero. On 16 October, they finally clinched a final round berth with a 7–0 win over Guyana with goals scored by Randall Brenes, Álvaro Saborío, Cristian Bolaños, Celso Borges and Cristian Gamboa.
The fourth round began with a 2–2 draw against Panama. In March, Costa Rica lost 1–0 against the United States in Denver, Colorado. The Costa Rican Football Federation appealed the match due to inclement weather in Denver, but FIFA rejected the appeal as being without basis. Despite feeling aggrieved by the meteorological conditions, Costa Rica would again fall to the US 1-0 in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup that June. On March 26, Costa Rica won at home 2–0 against Jamaica. In June, Costa Rica won 1–0 against Honduras, tied 0–0 at the Estadio Azteca against Mexico and won at home 2–0 against Panama. In September, Costa Rica won 3-1 against the United States in Estadio Nacional in San José.
On September 10 Costa Rica tied with Jamaica. Goals were scored by Randall Brenes at the 73rd minute and by Jermain Anderson at the 90th minute. Despite losing its lead, Costa Rica qualified to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with two games to spare. After a 1-0 loss at Honduras and 2-1 win over Mexico in October, Costa Rica finished second in the final CONCACAF qualifying round table behind the United States., Costa Rica was drawn in Group D against Italy, England, and Uruguay
The Ticos, currently 34th in FIFA’s rankings, have been hit hard by injury. As expected, Everton defender Bryan Oviedo will not recover from a broken leg in time to make the trip to Brazil. Defender Kendall Waston and midfielder Carlos Hernandez also did not make the final squad.
Perhaps the most depressing exclusion is that of Real Salt Lake forward Álvaro Saborío. At 32, Saborío has 93 caps for Costa Rica, and this would almost certainly be his final chance to play in a World Cup. But the forward broke his hand in training on Thursday, and will not be able to play in the tournament.
The injuries have made Costa Rica’s task in Brazil even more formidable. The Ticos face Uruguay, England and Italy in Group D.
The coach, Jorge Luis Pinto, resisted any major surprises and is using the same core of players who helped Costa Rica to qualify as the top team from the CONACAF region.
Pinto said he was happy to stick with his proven players and valued continuity in the team, who will face England, Italy and Uruguay in Group D. “If we have to make changes, we will when the time comes,” Pinto said.
Pinto also confirmed that Oviedo of Everton will miss the tournament with a broken left leg. He was injured in January and was not able to recover sufficiently to make the team.