The Costa Rican Soccer Association (FEDEFUTBOL) named René Simões the new coach of the country´s national soccer team on Wednesday, two days after firing Rodrigo Kenton.
Kenton was removed on Monday after 14 months as coach of La Sele, as the team is known.
Simões, who is Brazilian, coached Jamaica to its first-ever World Cup appearance in France in 1998. He also coached the women´s Brazilian team to a Silver medal in the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. He has since continued to coach in both Brazil and Jamaica.
“With much courage, we will do all that is possible to give Costa Rica a strong enough group to be able to qualify for the World Cup,” Simões said Wednesday evening.
Murmurs of Kenton´s impending dismissal began last week, after Costa Rica dropped its third consecutive World Cup qualifying match, 1-0, to El Salvador. The Ticos, who won four of their first five games in World Cup qualifying, have lost their last three matches by a combined score of 8-0, including a 4-0 dismantling by Honduras in August and a 3-0 home loss to Mexico on Sept. 5.
At a press conference Monday in Santa Ana, west of San José, Kenton sat with the federation´s president, Eduardo Li, who explained the reasoning for the coach´s release.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr. Kenton for all of the work he has done,” Li said. “But results are important, and we have not got the right ones over the course of our last three matches.”
Prior to the match with Honduras on Aug. 12, Costa Rica was in first place in the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) region. But, with losses in their last three games, the Ticos have fallen to fourth place.
The top three teams from CONCACAF will advance to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Currently, the U.S., Mexico and Honduras hold the top three spots in the region. The fourth-place team in the region will participate in a two-game playoff series against the fifth-place team from the South American qualifying group, CONMEBOL. Perennial world soccer power Argentina is in fifth place in that group.
Simões will coach La Sele in the two games remaining in World Cup qualification. The Ticos will play Trinidad and Tobago, occupying last place in the group, on Oct. 10. They will play the group leader, the U.S., on Oct. 14. If they are to earn a top-three position, Costa Rica most likely will need to win both games and some of the teams ahead of them must lose their games.
Kenton won his first nine games as manager of La Sele and led the Ticos to a 15-2-3 record in his first 20 games. He finished with an overall record of 15-5-4.