Team profile – Costa Rica

In recent times, Costa Rica have become a regular sight at the world’s top tournaments, and the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany will be no exception. Although their qualification was far from plain sailing, Alexandre Guimaraes’s side came good in the end and are now preparing to embark for Europe in a bid to upset the established order.

Not even the Ticos would deny that they made very hard work of the early qualifying rounds. In spite of being overwhelming favourites, they almost came unstuck against first-stage opponents Cuba, only going through on away goals after the pair played out two score draws.

Things showed little sign of improving when the six-team final round got under way. A 2-1 home defeat by Mexico, a 3-0 loss away to the US and a 0-0 draw in Trinidad and Tobago was not the start they had hoped for. The only encouragement came from a 2-1 win over Panama — and even that came courtesy of a last-minute Roy Myre goal.

However, the return of Guimaraes, the coach who guided the Ticos to Korea/Japan 2002, in place of Jorge Luis Pinto at the start of April 2005 coincided with an upturn in the team’s fortunes. With Guimaraes at the helm, Costa Rica defeated Guatemala (3-2), Panama (3-1), Trinida abd Tobago (2-1) and the USA (3-0) to secure a berth in Germany.

Germany 2006 will be Costa Rica’s third appearance at the FIFA World Cup. It would no exaggeration to say that both their previous appearances — Italia 90 and Korea/Japan 2002 — were memorable, with the Central Americans surprising the world with their uninhibited play and supremely talented individuals.

• WC participations: 2 (1990, 2002)

• WC honours: Last sixteen (1990)

• Continental Titles: Seven times CCCF champions (1941, 1946, 1948, 1953, 1955, 1960, 1961), three times CONCACAF champions (1963, 1969, 1989), Central American champions (1993)