The Costa Rican Men’s National Team hopes to clinch its spot at the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday when it faces off against a Mexican side that’s missing a few key players, but will arrive carefree in San José. Why? Because Mexico nabbed its World Cup spot on Friday when it defeated Panama 1-0 at home at the Azteca Stadium.
Costa Rica took a step toward classification that same night when it defeated the United States, 2-0, bringing it within one point of a trip to Russia.
The final round of Concacaf qualifying, known as the Hexagonal, assigns three direct World Cup spots; the fourth-place team will battle an Asian side for a ticket to Russia.
Mexican captain Andrés Guardado said that in some ways, the match against Costa Rica, scheduled for 8 p.m., feels like the first match of the World Cup for the Tricolor.
“We have won in places where we haven’t won for a long time, and today we’re one step away from taking first place,” he said. “The World Cup starts today [for us]. We have to think about what we can do to arrive at the World Cup in the best possible way, and what would be better than taking first place in the Hexagonal?”
However, the team will face Costa Rica with three key players missing: Héctor Herrera because of an injury, Jesús Dueñas because of a family matter, and Néstor Araujo because of a suspension for accumulated yellow cards.
Costa Rican coach Oscar “El Machillo” Ramírez said Costa Rica has quite a challenge ahead as it seeks to achieve its classification on the field with Mexico.
“It’s a very competitive side and we’ll have to know how to manage it,” he said after his team’s victory against the United States.
Possible lineups – Costa Rica: Keylor Navas – Cristian Gamboa, Johnny Acosta, Kendall Waston, Francisco Calvo, Bryan Oviedo – David Ramírez, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz, Cristian Bolaños – Marco Ureña. Coach: Óscar Ramírez.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa – Jair Pereira, Hugo Ayala, Diego Reyes, Héctor Moreno – Andrés Guardado, Jesús Gallardo, Jürgen Damm – Carlos Vela, Jesús Corona and Javier Hernández. Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio.