President Luis Guillermo Solís (right) hams it up with the "Ticos" Friday morning.
President Luis Guillermo Solís (right) hams it up with the “Ticos” Friday morning.

COSTA RICA SPORTS NEWS – Despite having the best defensive record in the CONCACAF, Costa Rica goes into its fourth World Cup appearance as the “heavy” underdog against three teams near the top of the FIFA rankings.

Getting past at least one of the European giants, to make it out of the first round of 16, which happened in 1990, would be major accomplishment.

But, there are two.

At the helm in 2014, Costa Rica counts with a coach that has been described as an “innovative”, the Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto.

Pinto has said over and over — maybe trying to convince his players — that his defense is up to the challenge.

Costa Rica under Pinto has been flexible tactically. Organization and hard work from the whole team was key to only losing twice in World Cup qualifying and conceding just seven goals in 10 games in the final six-team qualifying phase.

Costa Rica’s biggest losses are Bryan Oviedo, who suffered a double fracture of his left leg in January and Alvaro Saborio after breaking a one in his right foot during a training session on Thursday.

The team’s opening game against Uruguay on June 14 in Fortaleza holds extra meaning for Costa Rica. The South Americans defeated Costa Rica 2-1 on aggregate in 2009 in the intercontinental playoff for the 2010 World Cup, keeping the Central Americans out of the final tournament.

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