The 2014 quarter-finalists have a tendency to punch above their weight at World Cups.
World Cup Games: Five
Best finish: Last quarter (2014)
A great success: 3-1 vs Uruguay (2014)
Most visible: Celso Borges (154)
Updates: Spain (November 23), Japan (November 27), Germany (December 1)
Teacher: Luis Fernando Suarez
Main player: Bryan Ruiz
Costa Rica became the 32nd and final team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup when they beat New Zealand 1-0 in a friendly in June.
Although “Los Ticos” were left until the last game to book a place in Qatar 2022, they have been successful in the competition since they played in 1990.
The Central American side had their best finish in 2014, reaching the quarter-finals where they were knocked out on penalties by the Netherlands. It ended a glorious run that began with a 3-1 win over Uruguay, followed by a shock 1-0 win against former champions Italy and a goalless draw against England.
They led their group and defeated Greece in the round of 16 on penalties.
This performance made the team lucky while other players were snapped up by the biggest football teams in the world.
In the 1990 World Cup debut, Costa Rica won two of three group games, including a 2-1 victory over Sweden, to advance. They failed to get past the group stage in 2002 and 2006, and missed out on qualifying for the 2010 edition.
The last World Cup saw them get the only point against Switzerland.
In preparation for this National Committee, Costa Rica won only one of the first seven games but turned their luck around and won seven of the last seven and secured the final spot. Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell and Keylor Navas showed their full potential as the team managed to get good results when needed.
Costa Rica is managed by Luis Fernando Suarez, who is no stranger to the World Cup. Suarez has led Ecuador and Honduras in the tournament, and he wants to go well in Qatar.
“My third World Cup is difficult for me,” he said in preparation for the finals.
“The main thing is to be able to choose people who are not only players but who deserve to be in the national team, who are worthy.”
The 62-year-old is expected to have more players in the squad as he will play 11 on November 23.
Joel Campbell, a player with 118 games and 25 goals to his name, should lead the attack alongside 22-year-old Anthony Contreras. Captain Bryan Ruiz and Los Ticos’ most-capped player Celso Borges will run the show from midfield.
Costa Rica has a strong defense with Juan Pablo Vargas and Oscar Duarte. Keylor Navas was instrumental in ensuring his team’s qualification for the tournament as he kept New Zealand out of the game.
Despite a long history of causing upsets, Los Ticos may find it difficult to get past the group. They have been placed in Group E, the so-called group of death, along with former champions Spain and Germany and Asian powerhouse Japan.
Despite good results in their last few competitive games, the Central Americans will have a chance to challenge them.
A surprise win or a couple of draws against the favorites could make a run in Qatar.