San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ticos to Face Haiti, El Salvador & Surinam

The Costa Rican Soccer Federation (FCF) fired head coach Hernán Medford along with his coaching staff last week.

There was no love lost when the long-anticipated decision was confirmed. “At last I’m free,” Medford told the daily La Nación.

Although Costa Rica recently qualified for the next round in the Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football (CONCACAF) tournament, during Medford’s 20-month tenure the team garnered a lackluster 7-5-12 record and only broke a 12-game winless streak on June 21 in its win over Grenada.

Rodrigo Kenton will return to coach the Tico squad, FCF has confirmed.

Kenton previously served as an assistant coach for Costa Rica in two of its three World Cup appearances in 1990 and 2002.

The team received its group assignments and match schedule last week in the CONCACAF group qualifying stages for the 2010 World Cup.

Costa Rica will battle in Group C starting in August against El Salvador, Haiti and Surinam.

While the Ticos are tipped to come out on top of the group, inconsistent play of late could be the team’s downfall in their games against opponents who are not expected to give any breaks. In particular, El Salvador is riding high, having knocked out fifth-ranked Panama in the previous round.

As recently as 2002, Costa Rica won CONCACAF. In that tournament, Medford scored the 86th minute go-ahead goal in an unprecedented 2-1 win over Mexico in the D.F.

Costa Rica will host El Salvador Aug. 20 at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in San José, and then Surinam on Sept. 6. Teams will play six games, one home and one away game against each of their opponents. Group play will continue through November.

In these two-leg match series, teams notch wins based on the aggregate goal total of both games, and not the individual results of the two matches. In this way, many view first- and second-leg games as one 180-minute game.

Winners and runners-up from the three groups will play in a six-team round robin to determine the three teams that will eventually represent the region at World Cup finals in South Africa.

FCF President Eduardo Li also confirmed that Luis Diego Arnáez and Victorino Quesada have been hired to the coaching staff, and that FCF is in talks with popular University of Costa Rica team coach, Johnny Chaves.

–Holly K. Sonneland


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