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HomeNewsCosta Rica and Canada Secure Final Spots in 2024 Copa America

Costa Rica and Canada Secure Final Spots in 2024 Copa America

Costa Rica, with a triumph over Honduras, and Canada earned the last two tickets to the 2024 Copa America on Saturday in playoff matches held in Frisco (Texas, United States). Canada defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 in their playoff and will compete in the continental tournament for the first time, also playing the opening match on June 20 against Argentina, the current champion.

Costa Rica came back from an early goal down to beat Honduras 3-1 and advance to their sixth Copa America, where they will debut against Brazil on June 24 in Los Angeles (California) in Group D. The team captained by Keylor Navas will also face Colombia and Paraguay in that group.

“Today was a final and many players are not used to playing this type of match,” stressed Argentine coach Gustavo Alfaro, who took over the Costa Rican bench at the end of last year.

“I had to take over a national team in a process of generational change, without time to test and the obligation to get results,” he recalled. “Qualifying for the Copa America doesn’t change anything for me, but the chance to have the players for 30 days and play against top-level teams does.”

Alfaro’s young team showed character to react after conceding a first goal to Michaell Chirinos in the 10th minute. The winger put Honduras ahead with a spectacular volley from outside the area that unleashed the jubilation of the ‘Catracha’ fans, who made up the majority of the 20,000 spectators that packed the Toyota Stadium.

A huge shame

Costa Rica responded just two minutes later, taking advantage of an error by Argentine-born goalkeeper Jonathan Rougier, who gifted Orlando Galo the equalizer with a poor clearance from a header in the box.

Young Warren Madrigal put Costa Rica ahead in the 56th minute with a thunderbolt into the top corner, and Jefferson Brenes sealed the victory and qualification in the 62nd minute with a shot from outside the area that surprised Rougier after deflecting off a defender.

“I thank the fans for their support and apologize to them,” said Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda. “I feel a huge shame because we could not give them what we wanted. We had the illusion of being in the Copa America.”

“The first half was very even and we did not assimilate the 1-1. We wanted to do things that we shouldn’t have,” lamented the Colombian coach.

Costa Rica, who will face Argentina in a friendly in Los Angeles on Tuesday, returns to the Copa America after participating in the 1997, 2001, 2004, 2011, and 2016 editions. So far, their best results are the quarterfinals in 2001 and 2004.

In the first playoff match, Canada defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 with goals from Cyle Larin and Jacob Shaffelburg in the 61st and 90+1 minutes.

The team led by Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich) continues to make progress after playing in their first World Cup in 36 years in Qatar in 2022 and reaching the final of the Concacaf Nations League in 2023.

Canada will be the rival of Lionel Messi’s Argentina in Atlanta (Georgia) in the opening game of the Copa America, which will be held throughout the United States until the final on July 14 in Miami (Florida).

The Conmebol championship was expanded this year to include six teams from Concacaf, of which the United States, Mexico, Panama, and Jamaica were already qualified.

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