Currently lying bottom of Group D and having endured a 4-1 football lesson from Turkey, things may look dire for Costa Rica on paper but in reality the Central Americans maintain high hopes of reaching the knockout stage. Costa Rica face Burkina Faso where the winner will progress to the Round of 16, provided New Zealand fail to overcome the runaway leaders. Even if the Young All Whites triumph in adversity against the Turks, a third-place qualification berth still beckons.
Juan Diego Samuels' troops are likely to go on the offensive from the opening whistle against the Africans, meaning talented striker Joel Campbell will see plenty of action. The Saprissa forward scored with a clinical finish to record Costa Rica's lone goal in a 1-1 draw with New Zealand and the lethal frontrunner could well have bagged several more on a different night.
Costa Rica have qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup on eight occasions, reaching the quarter-finals four times. If they are to repeat a top-eight finish Los Ticos have no choice but to win. "The team understands that we have to win but we know that we have the talent," says Campbell fresh from a low-key stretching session with his team-mates a day out from the match. "The game is the only opportunity we have so we better do the job and I think we will."
The match is a repeat of a quarter-final fixture between the two nations eight years ago. On that occasion the west Africans triumphed to claim a historic berth in the last-four at Trinidad and Tobago 2001.
Regardless of what happens Campbell will take away some fond memories of his first visit to the African continent. The warm welcome extended by the locals particularly striking a chord. "Even though many people live humbly, it is wonderful that they seem to be so happy and are so friendly towards us," says the youngster.
Campbell found himself playing a lone-striker role in the last group game against Turkey, an unforgiving task with the frontrunner starved of possession and well shackled by a host of robust Turkish defenders. "I feel I am a better player than what I have been able to show so far but I am trying my best so hopefully there will be more time at the tournament to shine," says Campbell.
Already with five years under his belt with Saprissa, where he is now in the reserve team for the San Jose giants, Campbell has more strings to his bow than the average striker. The 176cm youngster states that he prefers the central striking role, but he has also spent time in an attacking wide role or even filling the No10 position.
Campbell one day dreams of pulling on a jersey for the national team in the FIFA World Cup™. In the meantime he, like all of Costa Rica, will be nervously supporting Los Ticos as they attempt to overcome Uruguay in a two-legged play-off for a berth at South Africa 2010. Rather than blind optimism Campbell prefers to take a pragmatic approach as to a likely outcome against the experienced South Americans: "It is a very difficult game for Costa Rica but it is 11 against 11."