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UPDATE: Costa Rica suddenly realizes its playing Ireland not Northern Ireland in final World Cup warm-up

UPDATE 2: More changes! Now it appears Costa Rica will play Ireland on June 6 in Philadelphia. Originally, the match was set for Boston on June 7. The Costa Rica national team also will no longer host a multi-week training session in Denver, Colorado. Instead the squad has chosen to hold the practices back home in Costa Rica. Who knows what else will change between now and the friendly! We’ll keep you updated.

The Costa Rican Football Federal (Fedefut) has some geography issues. The organization clarified today that Costa Rica’s final match before the World Cup will be against Ireland — and not against Northern Ireland as the association announced Tuesday (although Fedefut’s Facebook page still hasn’t addressed the bewilderment). The national team will play Ireland just southwest of Boston on June 7 in Philadelphia on June 6.

Northern Ireland officials were astonished by the news that Fedefut had announced a match against them, according to The Belfast Telegraph.

But Irish FA chief executive Patrick Nelson and the association’s president Jim Shaw say they are as amazed at the news as supporters.

The confusion raises the possibility that Costa Rica were in talks with the Republic of Ireland rather than the Irish FA.

“It’s nothing to do with us and we haven’t been speaking to them,” said Nelson. “We have no plans to speak to them either or arrange a game. I don’t know where it has come from but it’s nothing to do with us – we are innocent on this one! It’s probably a simple mistake with there being two teams on our island.”

Shaw said he was also surprised by the news.

“It wouldn’t be the first time the Irelands have been mixed up,” he said. “It’s probably more common for us to be viewed as the Republic. I’ve absolutely no knowledge of this – we haven’t been talking to them.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland fan club wrote on Twitter also accused Costa Rica of not knowing the difference between the two neighboring Irelands.

An official for Fedefut simply told Al Día, “for some reason, there was confusion” about the opponent.

In addition to the Northern Ireland match, Costa Rica will play one more June friendly. La Sele takes on Japan on June 2 in a yet-to-be-determined city in Florida. Costa Rica’s national team will train in Denver for a few weeks, beginning on May 20. 

Ireland will clash with Costa Rica at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The site was chosen partially due to the large Irish population in the region. The stadium, home to the NFL’s New England Patriots, seats almost 70,000 and should make for a hostile visit for the Ticos.

Fedefut was searching for an opponent like an Ireland, since officials believe the Irish teams would better prepare Costa Rica for Group D rival England.

Ireland, ranked 68th by FIFA, is a stronger opponent for the Ticos than Northern Ireland (ranked 86th). However, the FIFA ranking represents a record low for the Irish squad. England, meanwhile, is ranked 12th in the world. The Republic of Ireland most recently qualified for the World Cup in 2002, making it to the knockout stages.

Costa Rica and Ireland have never met before in international play. The Ticos open the tournament on June 14 against Uruguay.


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