Eight years ago, Costa Rica stunned the world by advancing to the quarterfinals in Brazil-2014. Defender Óscar Duarte, a member of that team, believes it is time to overcome that memory and fight for something even bigger in Qatar-2022.
“Mentally we are better prepared now. We can’t stay with what happened in 2014, we have to make history with this group and we came here for that,” said the center-back on Sunday before taking part in the team’s second training session in Doha.
Duarte, 33, is part of the backbone that led the Tico squad to finish first in the ‘group of death’ of Brazil-2014, beating three world champions: Italy, England and Uruguay.
Duarte, goalkeeper Keylor Navas, midfielders Celso Borges and Brian Ruiz and forward Joel Campbell will experience their third consecutive World Cup in Qatar. In their likely farewell to the top stage, the veterans want to pass on their winning mentality to the new generation.
“Over time it has been proven that if you want to achieve something, you can achieve it,” said Duarte. “Some of us who are here have lived that experience. Now we have to make the younger people see that it can be achieved.”
Costa Rica will have its first challenge in Qatar next Wednesday against Spain, a league Duarte knows to perfection after playing seven seasons with Espanyol and Levante.
“We are all clear about what they can do. We know they have the quality and patience to always have the ball. We have to play our game and, when we get the ball back, try to hurt them,” he explained.
“We will go out to win. A draw is not bad, but in the end not everything is decided in the first game,” the current Al-Wehda player of the Saudi league reminded.
Duarte also downplayed the geographical error made this week by Luis Enrique, the Spanish coach, who apologized for calling Costa Rica a “South American team”.
“When I heard it I took it as normal. Everyone at some point can make a mistake,” Duarte said. “He himself said he was in Costa Rica and knows how nice it is. He made a mistake and we are human.”