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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Costa Rica seeks to adapt to new World Cup qualifying format

The Costa Rican men’s soccer team will seek to adapt to the changing international scenario, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, in its preparation for the qualification for the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar, manager Rónald González said Tuesday.

Without knowing if he’ll have access to international stars or even if he will be able to plan high-level international matches, González assured that he has alternative plans according to the possibilities that could arise given the evolution of the pandemic.

“We have prepared ourselves very well for any scenario that may occur,” González said in a video conference call.

The manager addressed the preparations for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying round, which was modified due to the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

Under the new format, Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Honduras are classified directly to a final octagonal tournament due to their position in the FIFA ranking.

Three other CONCACAF teams will complete the final phase, in which the eight teams will face each other in June, September, October and November 2021, as well as January and March 2022.

The top three teams will qualify for Qatar-2022, while fourth place will go to an intercontinental playoff, according to the World Cup slots allocated to CONCACAF by FIFA.

“We know that, at this time, the worldwide situation is complicated; the planning of contests will be subject to the provisions of the Ministry of Health for the management of the pandemic,” González explained.

He specified that in October, he hopes to schedule friendlies with CONCACAF teams that are not classified directly to the final octagonal, while in November he hopes to arrange matches with teams from other regions.

In case the latter is not possible, he anticipated that he will carry out four-day training microcycles until the end of the year.

González said he keeps in touch with players from foreign leagues, although he does not know when he will be able to count on them in practice.

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