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Costa Rica (CRC)
Rocky road to the finals
Although not recognised as a powerhouse in the CONCACAF confederation, Costa Rica is a proud football nation that has been in pure ecstasy since 5 September 2001. The "Ticos" as the football team is known, qualified for their second FIFA World Cup and first since 1990.
Costa Rica plays a 3-5-2 formation with a flexible midfield, making their opponents go through the middle, while they counter attack on the flanks with blazing speed. Two wing backs overlap constantly, with another two midfielders staying back to fill the gaps.
The team's real strength is its ability to go forward, notching 25 goals in 14 qualifiers. Rolando Fonseca and Paulo Wanchope lead the attack, both on the field and in the record books for goals scored for their country. However, as good as these twin strikers are, the team gets its inspiration from another source. Hernan Medford played in the FIFA World Cup 1990 and scored the goal against Sweden that put the "Ticos" in the second round.
Somewhat worryingly ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Costa Rica do not travel well, losing to minnows Barbados on the road in the first round of qualifying. In fact, all of the team's dropped points in the two qualifying rounds, four losses and two draws, came away from home. However, Costa Rica achieved something no other CONCACAF team has ever accomplished in winning at Guillermo Caneda stadium in Mexico City.
Manager Alexander Guimares took over the squad in January 2001, just before the first round playoff versus Guatemala. Since then, the team has been on a roll, winning 11 times, drawing six and losing only two games.
Significant past players:
Juan Ulloa, Javier Astua
-- Champion UNCAF Cup in 1991, 1997 & 1999
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