Simoes steps in for Costa Rica
© AFP

Former Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago coach Rene Simoes has been named head coach of the embattled Costa Rican national team following Monday's sacking of Rodrigo Kenton.

The Brazilian will take charge of the Tico reins for the side's final two 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifiers, at home in San Jose against already eliminated Trinidad and Tobago on 10 September and away to the United States in Washington DC four days later, and possibly a two-legged play-off against South America's fifth-place finisher should the Costa Ricans finish in fourth, the position they currently occupy in the final six-team field.

It is hoped that Simoes can bring stability back to the side, who have lost their last three matches, scoring no goals and conceding no less than eight. The Ticos actually led the ‘hexagonal' round for a long stretch, before losing their balance in a spectacular collapse. A 4-0 thrashing at the hands of neighbours Honduras in August was followed up by a demoralising 3-0 loss at home against Mexico and seemed to signify something was wrong in the camp. A 1-0 defeat to El Salvador on the road in their last outing then put Costa Rica's campaign, once so promising, in serious jeopardy.

The Brazilian manager, who also coached domestically in Brazil with Coritiba and Fluminense, is eager to get started and expects to be able to turn things around for the Central American powers. "A team that has gained 12 points in five qualifying games in CONCACAF has to be strong," the new man said. "South Africa 2010 is still a good possibility for us because Costa Rica still has a strong team."

Costa Rica have qualified for the last two instalments of the FIFA World Cup finals (Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006), and three overall after making their debut at Italy 1990. They have come to be known of late as the third member of CONCACAF's so-called big-three, behind the USA and Mexico.