Futbol or soccer fever is heating up in Costa Rica as La Seleccion, the national team, heads into Russia for their first World Cup 2018 game in two weeks, on June 17 against Serbia.
That fever will be on display today, in La Sabana, when the Ticos take on Northern Ireland in a friendly in the World Cup Countdown.
In 2014, La Sele reached the quarterfinals. In Russia, there are higher expectations.
- Qualification: Runners-up in the North, Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) qualifiers fifth round hexagonal
- Appearances in World Cups: this is the 5th (last in 2014)
- Best placement: Quarterfinals in 2014
- FIFA Ranking: 25
In Brazil 2014, Costa Rica won England, Italy, and Uruguay and only lost in the last eight on a penalty shootout to the Netherlands.
The trip to Russia will be under the direction of former player Oscar Ramirez, who took over the team from Paulo Wanchope resigning after being involved in a fight at an under-23 game. Ramirez is keeping the same base of players from the 2014 World Cup.
Keylor Navas, Costa Rica’s best-known, now a star with the Real Madrid, with two Champions League titles in the past three years, is expected to lead the team to higher expectations than their last time out.
Giancarlo Gonzalez, Bryan Oviedo, Kendall Waston, Oscar Duarte, Bryan Ruiz, Celso Gamboa, Cristian Bolanos, Joel Campbell and David Ramirez are part of the teams’ starter line-up.