Costa Rica Can Take Plenty of Positives from 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2014

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 05: (L-R) Bryan Ruiz, Marco Urena, Johnny Acosta, Michael Umana, Jose Miguel Cubero, Dave Myrie, Junior Diaz, Celso Borges and Giancarlo Gonzalez of Costa Rica look on in a penalty shootout during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match between the Netherlands and Costa Rica at Arena Fonte Nova on July 5, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

This is just the beginning of a bright future for Costa Rica after Jorge Luis Pinto took them to the quarterfinals for the first time in their history.

Los Ticos fought hard and fell versus the Netherlands in penalty kicks, but they showed the world that they are ready to shine in world football.

Pinto took over the squad in 2011, which marked his second tenure in charge of Costa Rica. Different from the first one—in which he was dismissed after seven months (2004-2005)—the Colombian had continuity and enough time to put together his own team.

Beyond the players, he also picked a fantastic staff. Costa Rican legends Paulo Wanchope and Luis Marin became his assistants, while Luis Gabelo Conejo was appointed goalkeepers coach.

Pinto also managed to secure friendlies with some of the strongest and top-ranked teams in the world, like Chile, Argentina, Spain and Brazil.

What we have seen of Costa Rica is the result of a successful qualifying process. They had a 5-2-3 record, losing only to the United States and Honduras outside home turf.

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Once in Brazil, Los Ticos amazed the world with the talent of Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Junior Diaz and Keylor Navas.

Costa Rica's fairytale World Cup run is not a stroke of luck. Pinto has been working hard with the team for three years.

His first solid results came in 2013. They won the Copa Centroamericana and finished second in the final Hexagonal stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

In Brazil, his strategy worked perfectly. He understood his side's strengths and took advantage of his rivals' weaknesses.

We are talking about a team that is working successfully in its generational transition, which teams like England, Netherlands and Spain are yet to accomplish.

Costa Rica found the way to stun Uruguay, Italy, England, Greece and the Netherlands.

In all fairness, and without the intention to discredit Louis van Gaal's brilliant strategy, the Dutch suffered. It took two brilliant saves by substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul to send Los Ticos back home.

Costa Rica held off some of the biggest teams of the competition and showed the world that technique, structure and heart can take you places. Costa Rican football is getting bigger and better by the minute. This World Cup's squad included 10 players who represent European clubs and three from the MLS.

Eight years ago, Los Ticos had three footballers from foreign clubs, but only Gilberto Martinez played in Europe, for Serie B team Brescia.

In 2002, Paulo Wanchope represented Manchester City, Ronald Gomez OFI Crete and Winston Parks Udinese.

In Italy 1990, their World Cup debut, all of the footballers played in the Costa Rican Primera Division.

There is no doubt that Los Ticos want to compete against the best, and they know they have what it takes to make it happen.

Their league may not be the strongest, but their players are. Take a look at La Sele's starting XIonly two of them are still attached to local clubs. Expect to see more Costa Ricans abroad moving forward.

It would be a big mistake to underestimate them after their stellar performance, especially in CONCACAF competitions.

Brazil 2014 will only inspire them to continue down the same path. They have four years to learn from their mistakes and to continue making history.


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