While New Zealand supporters lick the wounds of their World Cup heartbreak, Costa Ricans are looking forward to their national side’s sixth appearance at a FIFFA World Cup finals.
But in the aftermath of their 1-0 win against the All Whites in Doha, the Costa Rica coaching staff and players know they have been put to the test.
Veteran goalkeeper and captain Keylor Navas, whose second-half saves kept Costa Rica in the play-off tie, said:
“Today is a joyful day
“We played many finals to be here, we played many matches in which we knew we couldn’t make any mistakes. And today was another one of those.”
Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez acknowledged his side had found it difficult against New Zealand after taking the lead early in the game.
“We had a chance to score early on and then we struggled
“We knew what their assets were. We knew we’d struggle with their aerial balls.
“We had to make a change at halftime to have greater possession of the ball and a line of five in defence. That proved key.”
Fernando Suarez said he felt a sense of vindication for persuading veterans Keylor Navas (35) and Bryan Ruiz (36) remain available for national selection.
“I had to persuade them to stay on and play another World Cup and I’m glad I did.
“There were many who criticised that but they were an important part of the success of this squad.
“This group is spectacular, I can’t describe it. It is a spectacular human group. With these players it is much easier to do things.”