The Costa Rican Soccer Federation fired head coach Hernán Medford along with his coaching staff Friday. There was no love lost when the long-anticipated decision was confirmed. “At last I’m free,” Medford told the daily La Nación.
Although Costa Rica recently qualified for the next round in the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football (CONCACAF) tournament, during Medford’s 20-month tenure the team garnered a lackluster 7-5-12 record and only broke a 12-game winless streak on June 21 in its win over Grenada.
Rodrigo Kenton will return to coach the Tico squad, he told a local radio station Sunday. While the decision has yet to be confirmed by the CRSF, Kenton resigned as the Guatemala under-20 head coach the same day.
Kenton previously coached Costa Rica to two of its three World Cup appearances in 1990 and 2002.
The team received its group assignments and match schedule last week in the CONCACAF group qualifying stages for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Costa Rica will battle in Group C, starting in August, against El Salvador, Haiti and Surinam.
While the Ticos are tipped to come out on top of the group, inconsistent play of late could be the team’s downfall in their games against opponents who are not expected to give any breaks. In particular, El Salvador is riding high, having just knocked out fifth-ranked Panama.
As recently as 2002, Costa Rica won CONCACAF. In that tournament, Medford scored the 86th minute go-ahead goal in an unprecedented 2-1 win over Mexico in the D.F.
Costa Rica will host El Salvador Aug. 20 at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in San José, and then Surinam on Sept. 6. Teams will play six games, one home and one away game against each of their opponents. Group play will continue through November.
In these two-leg match series, teams notch wins based on the aggregate goal total of both games, and not the individual results of the two matches. In this way, many view first- and second-leg games as one 180-minute game.
Winners and runners-up from the three groups will play in a six-team round robin to determine the three teams that will eventually go to World Cup finals in South Africa.