KINGSTON (Reuters) - Costa Rica celebrated qualification for next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil on Tuesday despite a stoppage time equalizer from Jermaine Anderson giving Jamaica a 1-1 draw in their CONCACAF qualifier.
‘Los Ticos’ were just moments away from being able to celebrate on the field in Kingston before Anderson struck for the bottom placed Reggae Boyz.
But the 2-2 draw between Honduras and Panama, played one hour later, ensured that the celebrations could begin in earnest as Costa Rica earned their fourth World Cup finals appearance after 1990, 2002 and 2006.
As the players in the dressing room embraced, celebrating taking care of business at the stadium Jamaican’s know as ‘The Office’, it all became too much for coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
Pinto broke down sobbing during an interview with Costa Rican radio station Columbia.
“I’ve worked all my life, so hard, to make it to the World Cup, all my life ... this is sheer happiness,” he said before the tears overwhelmed him.
Hundreds of Costa Ricans gathered in two spots in the downtown area of the capital city of San Jose to celebrate qualification.
Fans decked out in red, white and blue chanted “Yes we could! Yes we could!” while others driving by in cars honked their horns in celebration.
Jumping among the crowd in the city’s Central Park, a fan wearing a large Costa Rican flag as a cape told TV channel Teletica: “I haven’t had lunch, I haven’t had dinner, all to stand by the team and watch them win a spot.”
“We’re going to Brazil! We’re going there and we’re going to be the champions!” he added.
Costa Rica’s position had been hugely strengthened by their impressive 3-1 home victory over the United States on Friday and while Tuesday’s performance was somewhat anti-climatic, it mattered little.
Substitute Randall Brenes had put Costa Rica on their way in the 75th minute, collecting a poor clearance from Jamaican keeper Richard McCallum and hammering home a low left footed drive.
But the champagne had to be kept on ice for an hour after Anderson popped up at the back post to poke the ball home and give Jamaica a share of the points.
“We’re happy, very thankful with all those who supported us through this and it is for all of Costa Rica”, captain Bryan Ruiz told local television.
Reporting by Kayon Raynor in Kingston and Isabella Cota in San Jose, Costa Rica, writing by Simon Evans, editing by Nick Mulvenney