Costa Rica national coach, Luis Fernando Suárez, has announced his 27 man squad for the Nations League double header against Panama and Martinique (on the 2nd and 5th of June, respectively) and the crunch World Cup play-off against New Zealand on June 14.
There are big surprises both in inclusion and exclusions. The call-up of veteran midfielder Allen Guevara for the first time in 9 years is certainly an eyebrow raiser, but also justice for an exceptional season with Cartaginés.
Furthermore, the call ups of uncapped duo Juan Luis Pérez and Roan Wilson is a big call by Suárez in such a critical period.
Finally, defender Ricardo Blanco, injured in the January games, is also back in the group.
In terms of absentees, the most significant omission is that of right back Cristian Gamboa. Despite having a stellar season at VfL Bochum in one of the top leagues in the world (Bundleslegia), the experienced defender has not been included in the squad due to missing the whole World Cup qualifying campaign with various injuries.
Although Gamboa has been missing from the national team recently, his absence from the squad still comes as a great shock. As he’s proven repeatedly over the last 10 years and 79 caps that he’s a big game player with immense experience, which are essential skills needed for the play-off decider.
In his place is the relatively untested Carlos Martínez, who only has a couple of caps; it’s a considerable gamble for Luis Fernando Suárez to make, and it remains to be seen if it’s the correct one.
Another surprise exclusion is that of midfielder Alonso Martínez, who has been a prominent member of the qualifying campaign.
Meanwhile, defender Ronald Matarrita and striker José Guillermo Ortiz are unavailable due to injury. Particularly in the case of Matarrita, it’s a major loss, as he has made the left-back spot his own in recent months, thanks to some superb performances.
Those players summoned by the coach must go to the facilities of the FCRF-Plycem Sports Complex from this Monday, May 16, to start work, where they will train and prepare for 2 weeks.
Keylor Navas is the only player who will not be with the group from the start and will instead join after the Nations League matches. The PSG goalkeeper will arrive directly in Qatar in the second week of June to prepare for the play-off fixture. In addition, Luis Fernando Suárez will cut 5 players from the squad after the Nations League games, leaving a 22 man squad for the play-off against New Zealand.
Finally, defender Ricardo Blanco, injured in the January games, is also back in the group, as well as experienced defender Óscar Duarte who missed the last round of fixtures with a knee injury and will be hoping to put the pain of relegation from La Liga with Levante behind him.
Here is the full squad list:
- Keylor Navas (New Zealand game only) (PSG-France)
- Esteban Alvarado (Herediano)
- Leonel Moreira (Alajuelense)
- Aarón Cruz (Saprissa)
- Francisco Calvo (San Jose Earthquakes-USA)
- Juan Pablo Vargas (Millonarios-Colombia)
- Kendall Waston (Saprissa)
- Óscar Duarte (Levante-Spain)
- Daniel Chacón (Cartaginés)
- Juan Luis Pérez (San Carlos)
- Ricardo Blanco (Saprissa)
- Carlos Martínez (San Carlos)
- Bryan Oviedo (FC Copenhagen- Denmark)
- Ian Lawrence (Alajuelense)
- Keysher Fuller (Herediano)
- Celso Borges (Alajuelense)
- Yeltsin Tejeda (Herediano)
- Orlando Galo (Herediano)
- Roan Wilson (Grecia)
- Carlos Mora (Alajuelense)
- Allen Guevara (Cartaginés)
- Bryan Ruiz (Captain) (Alajuelense)
- Brandon Aguilera (Guanacasteca)
- Gerson Torres (Herediano)
- Jewison Bennette (Herediano)
- Joel Campbell (Monterrey-Mexico)
- Anthony Contreras (Guanacasteca)
- Johan Venegas (Alajuelense)