Good news for futbol (soccer) fans, storm or no storm, nothing will detain Costa Rica’s national team from taking the field to make the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifying official.
The game that was supposed to be played tonight, Friday, in Costa Rica at the national stadium, against Honduras will be played tomorrow, Saturday at 8:00pm.
However, the celebration doesn’t have to wait until tomorrow, all eyes and ears will be in Orlando (Florida) where Mexico plays the USA today. A tie between “gringos and panameños” automatically qualifies the Ticos, and tomorrow’s game is only to celebrate.
For many, fans and players alike, the Honduras game is a bittersweet revenge, given the Hondurans are led by Jorge Luis Pinto, who led Costa Rica to World Cup history in 2014.
Pinto’s departure from Costa Rica, after the 2014 play, was not amicable, a lot of dirty laundry aired out in public.
At the airport on Thursday, Pinto was quoted as saying “let’s get this over as soon as possible”.
The game was scheduled to be played tonight. But given the national emergency, authorities in Costa Rica and in cooperation with the FIFA, decided to move game to Saturday, saying resources such as the Fuerza Publica (national police), Policia de Transito (Traffic police), Cruz Roja (Red Cross), Bomberos (Firefighers) and others were required to continue in the relief and rescue efforts across the country due to tropical storm Nate.
By FIFA rules, the game must be played by Tuesday at the latest. FIFA rules permit, in the event public safety cannot be assured, the game be played behind ‘closed doors’ – that is an empty stadium – if necessary.
The weather conditions in San Jose are good, the rain has stopped, the La Sabana area without any major problems, the field of the national stadium not affected by the storm.
As it stands at the moment, Costa Rica is second place with 15 points, behind Mexico with 18; Panama third with 10; and, the US with 9.
The top three teams qualify for Russia 2018.
— #WCQ ⚽️ (@FIFAWorldCup) September 6, 2017
With just two matchdays left in the CONCACAF qualifiers, Costa Rica’s fate is in their own hands: either a win or a draw against Honduras would be enough for them to secure second spot in the group behind Mexico. Even if they lose, if the USA-Panama (tonight in a game played in Orlando City Stadium Orlando, Florida at 19:35 local time) match ends in a tie, then qualification would be guaranteed regardless.
Panama can seal their place in the 2018 World Cup they’ll need to beat USA, while also relying on Costa Rica getting three points in their match with Honduras.
Also, tonight, first place (and qualified) Mexico plays the last place (and totally out of anything) Trinidad & Tobago at the Estadio Alfonso Lastras, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico at 20:30 local time.
On Tuesday, Costa Rica plays against Panama in their final game.
Last time out, Costa Rica was unable to beat Mexico in a game played at home, that would have qualified them. Although tonight’s game is seen just as a crowing, their loss with Mexico, changed the qualification permutations in the group.
On the positive, the Costa Ricans have an understanding between the players, who have racked up considerable experience together and know each other’s games inside-out.
For the Hondurans the game is an important one. If Honduras can pull off the impossible: a win against Costa Rica and then Mexico on Monday, their World Cup qualifying is kept alive.
Add to that a loss by Panama both against the USA and Costa Rica, could see Honduras qualifying.
In their favor, the Hondurans are going into the Costa Rica match pumped by their draw against USA.
And here you thought soccer was boring.
Click here for all the North, Central America and Caribbean matches and standings.