The Costa Rican national team suffered a 4-1 defeat to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a friendly match played on Tuesday at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, Croatia. The result was overshadowed by the tragic news of the death of Costa Rica’s assistant coach, Erick Rodríguez, who passed away earlier that day in an Amsterdam hospital.
Rodríguez had been battling an illness and was transferred to the hospital during a layover on the team’s flight from London to Zagreb. The Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) released a statement expressing its deepest condolences to Rodríguez’s family and friends.
“The Costa Rican Football Federation (FEDEFUTBOL) regrets to inform the passing of Erick Rodríguez, assistant coach of the Costa Rican Men’s National Football Team,” the statement read. “Rodríguez passed away on September 12, 2023, in an Amsterdam hospital. He was 49 years old.”
The match against the UAE was Costa Rica’s second under the guidance of new head coach, Claudio Vivas. The Ticos had won their previous match against Saudi Arabia 3-1.
The UAE dominated the first half of the match, scoring three goals in the opening 38 minutes. Yahya Al Ghassani opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a right-foot shot from the center of the box. Caio Canedo doubled the UAE’s lead in the 23rd minute with another right-foot shot. Ali Salmeen then made it 3-0 in the 38th minute, beating Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas with a powerful shot.
Costa Rica pulled a goal back in the 64th minute when Julio Cascante headed home a free kick from Bryan Oviedo. However, Al Ghassani scored his second goal of the match in the 75th minute to seal the victory for the UAE.
Despite the defeat, Costa Rica will be hoping to use the match as a learning experience as they prepare for their upcoming Nations League matches against Panama and Martinique in November. The Ticos are also building towards the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
The death of Erick Rodríguez is a devastating loss for Costa Rican football. Rodríguez was a highly respected coach who had a long and successful career in the game. He was a member of the Costa Rica coaching staff for several years and played a key role in the team’s qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Rodríguez’s passing is a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing the moments we have with our loved ones. His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew him. The Costa Rican football family will be forever grateful for his dedication and service to the game.
As the Ticos mourn the loss of their beloved coach, they will also be looking to honor his memory by continuing to strive for excellence on the pitch. Rodríguez would have wanted nothing more than for the team to continue to succeed. The players and coaches are determined to make him proud by giving their all in every match.
The road ahead will be difficult, but the Ticos are resilient. They will overcome this tragedy and emerge stronger than ever. The spirit of Erick Rodríguez will forever be with them, guiding them as they continue their journey towards greatness.