Champions Costa Rica and hosts Guatemala rounded out the field of eight qualified teams for the inaugural futsal competition at the Pan American Games in Rio in July after putting together some fine performances at the Domo Polideportivo in Guatemala City last week.
With two wins from two matches, the 100 per cent Ticos, who have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years in the highly technical five-a-side discipline of futsal - will be considered one of the teams to watch at the first-ever futsal tournament in Rio this summer.
They wasted no time booking their ticket to the Pan-Am bonanza with a simple 7-4 win over Panama in their first match on 8 March. Carlos Chavez, Julio Méndez and Junior Rodríguez all scored two goals each on the day to confirm what many in Central America already know - Costa Rica are a talented team to watch out for.
In their second and final match against the hosts Guatemala, who had qualified for Rio on the previous matchday with a 12-3 drubbing of whipping boys Panama in which Manuel Adrian Aristondo and Erick Acevedo each scored hat-tricks, the Ticos did not have everything their own way. But the 4-2 win, which came thanks to goals from Yefrid Ruiz, Danny Aguilar and Junior Rodriguez, proved enough to see the red-clad Costa Ricans take top honours in the triangular and stamp their name on the trophy.
Guatemala, whose senior men are currently rising up the FIFA/Coca-Cola world ranking , went through to Rio thanks to their 12-3 victory over Panama, who showed they still have a way to go in the Futsal arena as they were eliminated with two defeats.
The successful pair (Costa Rica and Guatemala) round out the final field for the eight-team inaugural futsal tournament at the Pan-American games, joining up with CONCACAF champs the USA, runners-up Cuba - who last month took the laurels at a regional tournament on the island - and South American giants Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador.