Monday, May 22, 2006

FIFA World Cup Preview- Costa Rica (Group A)

Costa Rica
1 GK MESEN Alvaro - (Herediano, CRC)
2 DF DRUMMOND Jervis - (Saprissa, CRC)
3 DF MARIN Luis - (Alajuelense, CRC)
4 DF UMANA Michael - (Brujas, CRC)
5 DF MARTINEZ Gilberto - (Brescia, ITA)
6 MF FONSECA Danny - (Cartagines, CRC)
7 MF BOLANOS Christian - (Saprissa, CRC)
8 MF SOLIS Mauricio - (Comunicaciones, GUA)
9 FW WANCHOPE Paulo - (Herediano, CRC)
10 MF CENTENO Walter - (Saprissa, CRC)
11 FW GOMEZ Ronald - (Saprissa, CRC)
12 DF GONZALEZ Leonardo - (Herediano, CRC)
13 FW BERNARD Kurt - (Puntarenas, CRC)
14 MF AZOFEIFA Randall - (Saprissa, CRC)
15 DF WALLACE Harold - (Alajuelense, CRC)
16 MF HERNANDEZ Carlos - (Alajuelense, CRC)
17 DF BADILLA Gabriel - (Saprissa, CRC)
18 GK PORRAS Jose - (Saprissa, CRC)
19 FW SABORIO Alvaro - (Saprissa, CRC)
20 MF SEQUEIRA Douglas - (Real Salt Lake, USA)
21 FW NUNEZ Victor - (Cartagines, CRC)
22 DF RODRIGUEZ Michael - (Alajuelense, CRC)
23 GK ALFARO Wardy - (Alajuelense, CRC)

Coach: Alexandre Guimaraes

Okay, I can't honestly say I know enough about this team to comment on its strengths and weaknesses. However, I do remember the performances from FWC 2002, where this tiny nation gave a good account of itself in a group that featured eventual champions Brazil and second runners up Turkey. Many players that were an integral part of that squad remain in the team, including star striker Paulo Wanchope, Brescia's Gilberto Martinez, Mauricio Solis, and Ronald Gomez, who certainly troubled the other teams in the last edition of the FIFA World Cup.
The team seems to be an experienced one, mostly, with the three youngest players born in 1984. Having two 21 year olds and a 22 year old as the least experienced members of the team is not a bad thing. There seems to be a bit of steel in midfield and defence with players like Marin and Solis having earned over 100 caps. The likes of Gomez, Fonseca and Centeno provide good attacking options and can put a lot of pressure on opposition defences, as well as put a few into the back of the net. Young players like Bolanos could make a huge difference as well. It certainly helps the team that many players were part of the Saprissa team that finished third in the FIFA World Club championship last year, putting in many impressive performances in a tournament that featured Sao Paulo and Liverpool.
And then there is Paulo Wanchope. The nation's all-time top scorer has played for clubs like Derby County, West Ham, Manchester City and Malaga, and brings top level experience to a team filled with players who have never left Central America. His long legs set him off on great runs, which, although appearing clumsy to the naked eye, have an unusual level of stability. His unusual style certainly puts off opponents, and this tall, lanky striker is more than capable of scoring brilliant goals, as shown by his 2004-05 strike against Numancia (for Malaga) which was named by ESPN as La Liga's goal of the season.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT: Costa Rica is a well- balanced, experienced team, and is very much capable of making it to the second round if the players play to their potential, and also display sufficient determination against evenly matched teams like Poland and Ecuador. It won't be easy however, given the pedigree of some players in the Polish and Ecuadorian squads, and of course the host nation Germany.

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