Costa Rica to begin Nations League with tough test vs. Haiti
Haiti pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2019 Gold Cup when it defeated Costa Rica, 2-1, in group play.
The two teams will meet again Thursday night as the Costa Rica men’s national soccer team begins its Nations League campaign. The match will be held at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas, due to security concerns in Haiti.
It will air in Costa Rica exclusively on Tigo Sports.
What is the CONCACAF Nations League?
The Nations League is a new tournament that features every team in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF.
As one of the nations that reached the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Costa Rica was automatically placed into League A, the top tier of the tournament. League A consists of 12 countries, divided into four groups of three teams each.
The winner from each group will advance to the Nations League semifinal, while the last-place teams will be relegated to League B for the next iteration of the tournament.
The Nations League will also be used to determine which CONCACAF teams qualify for the 2021 Gold Cup.
How is Costa Rica expected to do in the Nations League?
The aforementioned defeat to Haiti was the first time La Sele has lost to the Caribbean nation.
The latest FIFA rankings place Costa Rica as the world’s 43rd-best team and third in CONCACAF behind Mexico and the United States (12th and 21st worldwide, respectively).
Curaçao, meanwhile, is 76th, and Haiti is 10 spots below that.
Both Haiti and Curaçao impressed at the 2019 Gold Cup — Haiti in its win over Costa Rica and a close loss to Mexico, and Curaçao in beating Honduras and tying Jamaica.
While their performances were an encouraging sign for the improvement of Caribbean soccer, Costa Rica is still expected to win its group and reach the Nations League semifinals.
What to watch for: Costa Rica vs. Haiti
Thursday marks Costa Rica’s first game under new manager Rónald González.
González has already made a statement by leaving veteran Bryan Ruiz off the list of rostered players for the match against Haiti. But you’ll still see plenty of familiar names, including goalkeeper Keylor Navas (PSG), and top goal-scorers Celso Borges (Goztepe) and Joel Campbell (León de México).
Haiti, meanwhile, has a loss and a draw against Curaçao already in this Nations League — so it will be fighting to avoid relegation and for a berth in the 2021 Gold Cup.
Much of the squad that outran and out-toughed Costa Rica in June returns, and Haiti has also added Ronaldo Damus, who won the USL Golden Boot this season with North Texas FC.
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