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Costa Rica schedules two October soccer friendlies against Panama

The Costa Rica men’s national soccer team will return to action with two matches against Panama, the Costa Rica Football Federation (Fedefútbol) announced.

La Sele will host both matches at Estadio Nacional in La Sabana, San José. The first is scheduled for Saturday, October 10, with a rematch on Tuesday, October 13. Kickoffs will be at 8 p.m.

The news comes one day after Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, a local club, announced that 11 of its players had tested positive for the coronavirus — including Bryan Ruiz, who captained Costa Rica during the 2018 World Cup.

Positive tests in Costa Rica’s domestic league, the short-notice scheduling and the difficulties of international travel during the pandemic will limit the available player pool for La Sele.

“From the beginning, we have insisted in guaranteeing the safety of people involved in this sport, with clear sanitary protocols to minimize risk,” said Rodolfo Villalobos, Fedefútbol’s president.

“We thank the Panamanian Federation and the government for allowing us to give fans that possibility to watch their national team.”

Both matches will be played without in-person attendance.

La Sele hasn’t played since a February 1 friendly against the United States. The CONCACAF Nations League semifinals and final, scheduled for earlier this year, were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Costa Rica also backed out of a planned friendly on September 30 against Mexico when the team’s travel protocols weren’t approved.

The friendlies against Panama will help Costa Rica prepare for upcoming competitive matches, including the Nations League, the Gold Cup and 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifying.

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