BEFORE Sunrise: It was a big week for Costa Rican soccer. On Monday, in a game that was broadcast at 4:20 a.m. Costa Rican time and dragged many a bleary-eyed fan out of bed, San José’s Deportivo Saprissa defeated Sydney FC, of Australia, at the FIFA Club World Championship in Tokyo, Japan, 1-0 (players celebrated, above). The victory launched the team into Thursday’s semifinals against Liverpool, but the English powerhouse defeated Saprissa 3-0. The “purple monster,” as it’s known by its fans, will battle it out for third place against Al Ittihad, of Saudi Arabia, ending the first appearance by Saprissa, or any other Costa Rican club team, in the annual championship. However, even Saprissa’s agony and ecstasy paled in comparison to last weekend’s news, which struck nervous anticipation into the heart of many a Tico: Costa Rica was chosen to inaugurate the 2006 World Cup in Germany, playing against the host country. The game will take place Friday, June 9 in Munich; Costa Rica will then play Ecuador and Poland, and the winner of this group will proceed to the following round. The groups, and Costa Rica’s participation in the inaugural match, were determined by random draw Dec. 9.
Today in Costa Rica