Minutes after Argentina’s bid crashed against Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez warned on Tuesday that this World Cup can hold many surprises.
Anything can happen “if you want it to, yes. There are people who have achieved great things because they believed in it,” Suarez told a press conference ahead of Wednesday’s Group E opener against Spain.
Suarez, a Colombian national, will lead in Qatar a team still led by veterans like Keylor Navas, Celso Borges or Bryan Ruiz, who made Costa Rica the ‘giant-killer’ team of Brazil-2014 and reached the quarterfinals.
Sitting next to Ruiz, the Costa Rican captain, Suarez asked his players not to put limits to their World Cup ambitions.
“Maybe it doesn’t happen today, but to a kid who hears Bryan Ruiz talk today about being world champions, in 10 years it won’t seem so unnatural to say, ‘We want to be champions,'” the coach explained.
“We have to give him a seed, be ambitious,” he stressed. “I hope we will be brave by always saying it. It’s the only way one can start to achieve being a world champion.”
Regarding the debut against Spain, Suarez acknowledged that it will be a “very complicated match” but warned that the way in which they achieved the World Cup ticket, with an improbable comeback in the qualifying rounds, has given them the necessary strength to compete against the best.
“The group is emotionally very strong,” he stressed. “We went through difficult, acid, cruel moments, where for everyone there was no chance of qualifying, a huge pessimism and the group came together to get things done.”
“It was the best thing for us because now we know the way forward, we know the path to follow to achieve things,” said Suárez.
The coach, who assured that he had not yet decided on the starting eleven, shared a different vision of the role of coach to that offered minutes earlier by his Spanish colleague, Luis Enrique, who stressed that the leader of the ‘Roja’ is him.
“Not me, I am a facilitator of leaders,” Suarez countered. “I have different leaders in the group who are very interesting. Bryan is a leader in one way, Keylor (Navas) and Joel Campbell in another. There are different leaderships that one has to have the intelligence to know what they are and direct them”.
In his turn, Ruiz said that Costa Rica will play with a “brave” approach on Wednesday and highlighted the security offered by having Keylor Navas despite his inactivity this season at Paris Saint Germain.
“Having Keylor at the back gives a lot of confidence,” he acknowledged. “The idea is for him to be involved as little as possible but we have the confidence and certainty that when his intervention is necessary it will be in a good way and it’s going to be difficult to score a goal against us.”