The Costa Rica national football team becomes the second team from the CONCACAF zone to secure a berth at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. The tournament in Russia will become for the Costa Ricans the fifth, and this national team has turned from exotic football team into the second national team of the continent and the team to be acknowledged by all opponents without exception.
For the first time the Costa Rica national team managed to pass selection to the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Already on their first Mundial, the representative of Central America became one of the main discoveries of the World Cup. Costa Rica very surely held the group stage of the tournament with two victories over the Scotland and Sweden national football teams. Only the Brazil team was able to overcome the impertinent debutants. At the round of last 16, when the tournament task was exceeded, therefore Costa Rica did not manage to set themselves up for the opponent. As a result, the lopsided defeat from Czechoslovakia 1:4.
Two following participations of Red-Blues were hardly successful. In 2002 and 2006 the Costa Rica national football team couldn`t leave the group. The most successful tournament for the Costa Ricans is the last 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. Having got, as a result of drawing, into the ‘group of death’ with the Italy, Uruguay and England national football teams, Costa Rica was considered the group outsiders by all the experts.
Already in the first match the Costa Ricans created a furor. Losing after the first half 0:1 Red-Blues in the second half broke the course of a meeting and scored to South Americans three goals. In the second match, thanks to the Bryan Ruiz`s goal and a faultless game of the goalkeeper Keylor Navas, Costa Rica minimum beat Italy (silver medalist of Euro 2012) and leaves for the round of last 16 ahead of schedule. In the third match of the group stage Costa Rica does not stop — thanks to the Navas`s saves the match keeps a nil draw remains. Thanks to this result Red-Blues not only leave for the round of last 16 but do it from the first position which allows the Central Americans to receive the go-through Greece as opponents.
The play-offs continue miracles. In the match against Greece, Bryan Ruiz put his team ahead. Greece was able to retrieve already during extra time added by the referee. It seemed that within the added half an hour the more skilled Greeks would nearly beat the opponent, but it didn`t happen. The teams did not managed to score until the penalty shootout which showed the stronger Red-Blues. For the first time Costa Rica got through to the eight strongest world teams!
In the quarterfinal, Costa Rica played against the Netherlands national football team. They were equal opponents and spectators saw no goal. In the penalty shootout the Netherlands national football team appeared stronger. Nevertheless, getting into the World Cup quarterfinal for the team of Central America is a great success which is not easy to repeat next years.
The Costa Rica national football team has in its portfolio three wins in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1963, 1969 and 1989. It is surprising that unlike world championships, during the last 20 years the Costa Ricans did not succeed in the continental championships. Only in 2002 Red-Blues were able to reach the tournament final where they got beaten by the tournament hosts, the USA national football team.
The squad of Costa Rica is presented by players of various Leagues and continents. Especially it is worth allocating two football players. The goalkeeper Keylor Navas became the main creator of the team successful performance in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Then he was invited to the Real Madrid where he won the UEFA Champions League twice, as well as the La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa de Espana and the FIFA Club World Cup. Today, Navas is the most titled Costa Rican football player. Another star is the skilled forward Bryan Ruiz who is the captain of the team. Ruiz supports the national team for over 10 years and has scored already over 20 goals.
The Costa Rica national football team is quite capable to surprise in Russia, and won`t definitely become a “whipping boy”. In case of a successful drawing, the team is quite able to leave the group for play-offs.