Meticulous Pinto plots Costa Rica's Netherlands plan

Mon Jun 30, 2014 12:16pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Toby Davis

RECIFE Brazil (Reuters) - Organization, preparation and desire - it may be a simple mantra, but it has taken Costa Rica from unfancied underdogs to World Cup dark horses who are within one more upset of the semi-finals.

A penalty shootout victory against Greece having played almost an hour with 10 men to draw 1-1 ensured the relative minnows from Central America reached the quarter finals for the first time where the Netherlands now lie in wait.

While they will again be tipped to fail, just as they were when drawn in a group that included Italy, Uruguay and England, they have shown that a solid team ethic, built on the foundation of meticulous preparation and rigid organization can help them upset the established pecking order.

Their victory over an unadventurous Greece in Recife was impressive in that it came despite a second-half red card that left weary legs to survive another 54 minutes throughout extra time.

They were helped on their way by some heroic goalkeeping from Keylor Navas, but also thanks to the tactical wiles of coach Jorge Luis Pinto, who leaves nothing to chance, even the minutiae of the shootout.

"We had analyzed everything, who was going to shoot the penalties. We knew before the match who was going to go first, second, third...

"We have a very well established structure, everybody knows what they have to do and that is useful for us. Having that feeling and pride in wanting to keep moving on...

"If you are prepared, you play better and learn faster, handle tactics and strategies better. You have better behavior on the pitch and you assimilate the tactical side of things better with all that learning."   Continued...

Hondura's Jerry Bengtson (R) misses a scoring opportunity near Costa Rica's goalkeeper Keylor Navas during their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match at the National Stadium in San Jose June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate