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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Costa Rica winless streak has reached nine games

Costa Rica’s men’s national soccer team is one of 10 countries that have gone nine consecutive official games without a win, a streak it hopes to break Wednesday when it faces the United States.

The friendly match between La Sele and the new CONCACAF Nations League champs is scheduled for 5 p.m. MDT (and 5 p.m. in Costa Rica) at Rio Tinto Stadium near Salt Lake City.

Accustomed to receiving praise, the Ticos now share a winless streak with Seychelles, Indonesia, British Virgin Islands, Tonga, Lesotho, Anguilla, San Marino, Mauritius and Indonesia, teams that are mostly among the bottom of the global FIFA rankings.

“It is an uncomfortable situation, and every game that passes, if that victory is not reached, more doubts are generated,” said the renowned former Costa Rican striker, Paulo César Wanchope.

“The only way to ease the atmosphere is to have a positive result and it has not been achieved in 10 games,” Wanchope added, citing a figure that includes last year’s unofficial loss to the Basque Country.

Costa Rica, number 50 in the FIFA ranking and with five participations in World Cups in tow, has not triumphed since November 19, 2019 when they beat Curaçao.

The lack of victories has generated enormous concern in the footballing heart of the country, with the World Cup qualifier to Qatar 2022 just around the corner.

After that victory against Curaçao, the Ticos recorded a 1-1 tie against Haiti, a 0-1 loss against the United States, two 0-1 defeats to Panama, a 1-1 draw with Qatar, 0-0 against Bosnia, 0-1 and 0-0 results against Mexico, and 2-2 against Honduras.

The last two results were obtained in the final four of the CONCACAF Nations League.

Improving “is a difficult task, because (the coach) has to lift the spirits of the players and the fans,” Wanchope said.

“You have to make an evaluation and self-criticism, and if you have to make radical decisions in terms of operation and the basis of the group to reverse, then you have to do it,” said Costa Rica’s top World Cup goal-scorer.

Optimism despite results

Coach Rónald González continues to express optimism about La Sele.

“We are going on that path of correcting, we are going on that path where we can make good and better decisions to find stability,” he said after the most recent draw against Honduras, a match for third place that Costa Rica lost on penalties.

That longing is shared by another experienced former Costa Rican footballer, Gilberto Tuma Martínez, who had a more than 10-year career in the Italian Serie A and also participated in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

“The game against the United States is coming, then the Gold Cup and that will help the coach more in the face of the qualifying rounds for Qatar, which is the most important thing,” said the former player.

After facing the United States on Wednesday, Costa Rica in July will join 14 other countries in the region and Qatar in the Gold Cup, the most important CONCACAF tournament and the last chance to improve before World Cup qualifying in September.

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