UPDATE: Costa Rica falls to Australia, 1-0, in first warm-up for 2014 World Cup

February 6, 2014

UPDATE: SYDNEY —  Tim Cahill equaled Australia’s national goal-scoring record to give new coach Ange Postecoglou a winning start in a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Sydney on Tuesday.

The star forward scored with a header in the 69th minute to give a young experimental Socceroos team a deserved win over a short-handed Tico squad.

Here was the AFP’s preview of the match, which we posted Monday:

Costa Rica will head down under to take on another World Cup qualifier early Tuesday morning.

Costa Rica plays Australia’s national team, better known as the Socceroos, at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday (Costa Rica time). This will be Costa Rica’s first international friendly since qualifying last month – with relative ease – for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Costa Rica missed the previous World Cup in 2010.

The Australian team qualified during the summer, but since then has won only one friendly and lost four. The Socceroos fired their head coach in October. But Costa Rica will have its own troubles, with many of its best players missing the game due to injuries. Goalie Keylor Naves, one of the best goalkeepers in the region, will miss the match due to shoulder tendinitis. Team captain Bryan Ruíz is also out. So is striker Álvaro Saborío, who on Monday was named the Latin player of the year in the U.S.’s Major League Soccer association.

Costa Rica has struggled on the road in previous national team matches this year, and didn’t earn a single win as an away team during this year’s Concacaf qualifying games. Now the short-handed Ticos must travel across the globe to try to earn an impressive victory against another World Cup underdog.

“This is an important warm-up, and there the players and the coach are playing for their jobs,” said Costa Rica’s Colombian-born head coach Jorge Luis Pinto. “We have to respond to them.”

He added that “here begins the preparation stages for the Costa Rican national team for the World Cup in Brazil” and that he wants 100 percent concentration from the players despite this being a friendly.

“With the qualifiers over, here begins the stage of warm-ups to evaluate the players,” Pinto said.

The coach didn’t make any excuses about the injuries, saying the team has “to be flexible and to understand that every warm-up will serve to figure out who will” contribute in the World Cup.

The Socceroos new head coach Ange Postecoglou said his players will all be competing for spots on the World Cup roster, with very little solidified so far. Australia’s Tom Cahill and Robbie Kruse are considered the biggest scoring threats to Costa Rica.

This will be the first-ever match between the national squads of Costa Rica and Australia. La Nación cited the Socceroos as Costa Rica’s 60th international opponent since the national team played its first match against El Salvador in 1921.

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