Regulars at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, for which they have now qualified eight times, Nigeria 2009 will be Costa Rica's fifth consecutive appearance at the showpiece event. Los Ticos have reached the quarter-finals four times: at Trinidad and Tobago 2001, Finland 2003, Peru 2005 and Korea 2007, where they went out to Argentina having negotiated a tough group featuring hosts Korea Republic, Peru and Togo.
Given their consistent success with underage teams, Costa Rica were among the favourites to claim one of the four CONCACAF berths for the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the regional qualifying tournament in Tijuana, Mexico. However, drawn in a group with the hosts, long-standing rivals Guatemala, and Trinidad and Tobago, the young Costa Ricans had to wait until their third and final game to secure qualification, finally pipping arch-rivals Guatemala on goal difference.
With a solid, vastly experienced team, there is no doubt that Costa Rica will arrive in Nigeria with high hopes. Their aim will be to progress beyond the quarter-finals, a hurdle which they have yet to overcome at this level. Spearheaded by their powerful striker Joel Campbell, Los Ticos will be hoping to capture the imagination of their country as they did in Peru in 2005, where, with midfield general Celso Borges at the helm, they came within minutes of eliminating eventual champions Mexico. To replicate this success they will have to maintain the consistency of recent years and correct mistakes, as was highlighted by coach Juan Diego Quesada after the qualification phase: "I'm satisfied with our progress so far but am under no illusions about the need to improve. This is part of a learning and development process on our way to Nigeria," he said.
Facts and figures
Hernan Medford (1985), Alonso Solis (1995), Cristian Bolanos (2001), Armando Alonso (2001), Keylor Navas (2003), Celso Borges (2005)
Joel Campbell (forward), Rosbin Mayorga (forward), Juan Bustos (midfielder), Alejandro Calderon (defender), Ricardo Rojas (goalkeeper)
In their three qualifying games, Costa Rica won one, lost one and drew one, scoring four goals and conceding only two.
The numbers game
4 - The number of consecutive quarter-final appearances Costa Rica have made in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
|SAMUEL Juan Diego|