San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
La Sele

Costa Rica's under-17 team knocked out of World Cup

The historic run for Costa Rica’s under-17 team in the World Cup came to an end Monday night when “La Sele” suffered a 1-0 loss to Belgium in the quarterfinals in Chile. Just like their senior counterparts last year, La Sele’s youth squad ended its best-ever performance coming just short of making the semifinals.

Costa Rica had multiple chances to score against the Red Devils, despite a myriad of sloppy passes and unorganized play from its forwards. La Sele was ultimately undone when goalkeeper Luis Barrientos made a poor pass to defenseman Daniel Villegas, leading to a yellow card on Villegas that set up a free kick for Belgium in the 27th minute. Belgium’s Dante Rigo converted that into the game-clinching goal, curving the ball around the bend to score past Barrientos.

Coach Hugo Herrera said after the game that he was proud of his team’s performance, despite the disappointing result in the quarterfinals.

“These guys have a bright future,” he told the Spanish-language news station Teletica. “They know what it means to suffer and they know what it means to be proud.”

Captain Luís Hernández had two easy chances on goal in the 18th minute but Belgian goalie Jens Teunckens made a succession of great plays to keep Costa Rica off the board early. Then, in the 82nd minute, Pablo Arboine barely missed the goal after rebounding a block by Teunckens right in front of the net.

Belgium, whose senior team is ranked No. 1 in the latest FIFA rankings, will now play Mali in the World Cup semifinals on Thursday.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

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