Costa Rica will play against New Zealand for the pass to Qatar-2022, which would be their sixth participation in a World Cup, with a generation of legendary soccer players who, enthroned by their historic role in Brazil-2014, resist the passage of time.
On the 14th, in Doha, Qatar, the Ticos will seek their third consecutive participation in a World Cup with several of the architects, almost eight years ago, of their best classification in a World Cup.
It was in Brazil-2014 when Keylor Navas (35 years old), Óscar Duarte (33), Celso Borges (34) and Bryan Ruiz (36), in addition to Yeltsin Tejada (30) and Joel Campbell (29), reached the quarterfinals .
Now, they can be the key piece of the team, led by Colombian Luis Fernando Suárez, to obtain a new World Cup ticket.
The Tricolor reaches the playoffs after a spectacular comeback in the Concacaf octagonal, where they achieved 16 of a possible 18 points, with decisive goals from Campbell, Borges and Ruiz, and a stellar performance from Navas.
“Because of their experience, they already know how to play certain types of games, how to play a tie and against pressure, they are going to be a fundamental key this Tuesday,” Andrea Zamora, a journalist with the Costa Rican channel TD+, told AFP.
“The Brazilian generation is a generation that is in force, they are and have been important in this tie,” Yashin Quesada, journalist and creator of the Yashinquesada.com sports portal, told AFP.
Under the direction of Colombian José Luis Pinto, Costa Rica came first, against all odds, in the group of death at the World Cup in Brazil. In the group stage they defeated Italy and Uruguay and tied with England. In the round of 16 they eliminated Greece, with a goal by Ruiz and a stellar performance by Navas.
“We continue to depend on many figures from Brazil-2014 and we should not, eight years later, be turning to them, even though they are indisputable for their leadership and technical quality,” Gabriel Vargas, sports journalist for the FUTV channel, told AFP.
The question fans are now asking is how far this generation can go and whether the match against New Zealand will be the last for some of their components if they are eliminated.
“These are different circumstances. Bryan Ruiz has already announced that this is the last round for him, Borges has not made it clear, Campbell is a little younger and Navas is indisputably fit to compete at the highest level,” says Quesada.
“I think that of the generation of 2014, Navas is the one who can give him the rope for the next (World Cup) process,” adds Leandro Cordero, from Radio Columbia.
The coach Suárez has opted during this process for a combination of those old glories with youth. Brandon Aguilera, Jewison Bennette and Anthony Contreras are called to relieve some internationals that the Costa Rican fans know by heart.
However, the local press highlights the difference in age and experience between the oldest and the youngest, which can complicate the generational change.
The paralysis due to the pandemic and the changes in technicians would be some of the reasons that have delayed the renewal of the selection.
“If we see the national team, it is made up of players between 29 and 30 years old, for the most part, and by players between 19 and 22. It remains to analyze what happened to that generation between 24 and 28 years old,” he tells the AFP Irene Chinchilla, from Tigo Sports Costa Rica.
“A long time ago we should have made a generational replacement,” adds Zamora.
Far from the noise, the Costa Rican players train in Qatar to beat New Zealand and defend the generational change.
Suárez “has all the conditions of what it is to be a good coach, he has been able to fill us with confidence and, above all, manage to mix experience with youth,” says Borges.
The youngest have had “humility” to learn and “that desire to go to a World Cup, work and conquer the world,” says Navas.