On the heels of a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Czech Republic, the Costa Rican under-20 team received good news: they were advancing to the second round of the U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
The Ticos, who finished third in Group E behind Brazil and the Czech Republic, sneaked into the final spot of the round of 16 due to goal differential. Both Costa Rica and the United States finished the first round with 3 points and a goal differential of -3. However, because the Ticos scored more goals than the U.S. – 5 to 4 – they earned the final berth into the second round.
“We really didn´t think we could qualify,” said Ronald González, coach of the under-20 team, after learning the team was moving into the second round. “So I and the players are delighted to have made it through.”
The Ticos played their final first round game against the Czech Republic on Saturday evening in Alexandria, Egypt. In a see-saw match, the Costa Ricans fell behind early 1-0, then scored two goals to take a 2-1 lead early in the second half, only to allow two late goals to fall 3-2. Czech striker Jan Chramosta scored the winning goal, his second of the match, in the 86th minute.
“We started off very strongly and should have made our domination count in the first few minutes,” González said. “We then came back into the game, but once again made things difficult for ourselves by conceding the last goal after 85 minutes.”
In their second round matchup, Costa Rica will play the host nation Egypt, in the capital city of Cairo, on Tuesday. Egypt, not known for a successful soccer tradition, won Group A. The Egyptians clinched the group with a 4-2 win over Italy in the third game of group play.
The game will be played at 12 p.m. (C.R. time) on Tuesday in Cairo.