Football

Costa Rica wary of England backlash

Giant-slayers Costa Rica must not look down their noses at eliminated England despite their remarkably-different fortunes at the World Cup, the Central Americans' coach said this morning (Singapore time).

Viewed as tournament underdogs, the "Ticos" have already qualified for the next round after stunning wins over Uruguay and Italy. England lost to the same opponents, and are flying home straight after tonight's game against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte.

"The situation is quite complicated for the match," coach Jorge Luis Pinto said ahead of the game.

"The 'mother of football' cannot leave without points. They must take some pride, they can't just leave Brazil with their arms crossed.

"They're a young team with great potential for the future. They play well. It will be an aggressive game."

Pinto, whose team need a draw to guarantee top spot in the group, and a second-round match against the Group C runners-up, commiserated with England after the Three Lions ironically showed more attacking flair than during their dour, but more successful, outing in South Africa in 2010.

"The English haven't been lucky in finding the goal. They kept getting to the box but didn't make the chances," he said.

"They have the history and jersey. They're favourites tomorrow."

Beyond the England game, Costa Rica are already focused on their next opponents, who could be Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan or Greece, depending on how the final group games play out.

Costa Rica, who last reached the second round in 1990, fully deserved their two wins, and their camp is bouncing ahead of the England game and the knockout phase.

SILKY

Though sticking to a five-man back-line, Costa Rica have been anything but boring, with silky counter-attacks feeding speedy lone striker Joel Campbell and attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz.

Peppered with questions about their success, Pinto and his players said it was all about unglamorous things like preparation, learning, assimilation of tactics and hard work.

"Costa Rica do not have secrets. A lot of people were not expecting anything from Costa Rica but, ultimately, we have deserved it and shown we have top-notch players," he said.

"We've won a lot, but now we want more... The next games will be more complicated. The enemies know us."

- Reuters.

World Cup