San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Soccer Federation Fires Coach Pinto

THE soccer gurus in the Costa RicanSoccer Federation (FEDEFUT) gaveColombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto of theCosta Rican national team, La Selección,his walking papers last week.The decision followed a World Cupeliminatory round fraught with mediocrity,in which La Sele lost to Mexico onits home turf, then barely beat Panama,considered a lesser team, also on its hometurf, then embarrassingly tied Trinidadand Tobago 0-0 in an away game March30 (TT, April 1).Pinto said he does “not share”FEDEFUT’s decision to fire him and he is“pained because I had the dream of aworld championship and I dedicatedeverything to pursuing that dream.”The coach added his dismissal was“premature,” and “they could have handledthings better,” referring to the factthat the officials decided to rescind hiscontract before he returned to Costa Ricaafter the Trinidad and Tobago fiasco.“I’m leaving with an immense gratitudefor those who live soccer, for theplayers who know me and my style ofwork, my commitment, my principles, mylove and devotion. I’m taking with me agood image,” he said.He added that in Trinidad and Tobago,“we achieved the best result we couldhave achieved, but it wasn’t ideal,” andemphasized that the four points CostaRica has accumulated in this round (threefor the win against Panama and one forthe tie with Trinidad and Tobago – theloss against Mexico didn’t contribute anyround points) “were not the best, but alsonot the worst.”Pinto led Costa Rica since June 23,2004, after U.S. coach Steve Sampsonwas fired for not obtaining desired results.Pinto took the team to the secondround of the America Cup 2004 in Peru,and up to this final World Cup 2006 eliminatoryround.The primary candidate for his replacementis Brazilian-born nationalized CostaRican coach Alexandre Guimaraes, whomet “informally” last week with soccerofficials.“Guima,” as he is called, led La Seleto the World Cup 2002 in Korea andJapan after winning first place in the finalregional eliminatory round.

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