Cinderella then, favourites now
Rio de Janeiro: Having left former champions Uruguay, Italy and England behind to sensationally win their group — one of the toughest at the World Cup — the Costa Ricans line up against their lowest- ranked opposition so far in Greece in the second round on Sunday.
“We were the Cinderella and now we are favourites. That’s respect and we earned it,” Costa Rica defender Michael Umana said.
Costa Rica’s expectations have skyrocketed, not just because of the results but the way they earned them. It progressed from the group stage for the second time and first since 1990, doing it with panache and attacking verve and with forwards Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz leading from the front.
“What we have accomplished is now part of history but there are still some chapters left and we want a happy ending,” Costa Rica director of national teams Adrian Gutierrez said.
Greece’s Portuguese coach Fernando Santos, for one, says his side won’t be taking Costa Rica lightly.
“We’ll study them. We’re going to have to be careful, they won the ‘ group of death’. For that reason we can’t underestimate them,” he said.
Costa Rica’s Junior Diaz ( front) and midfielder Celso Borges train at Vila Belmiro Stadium in Santos on Thursday