Costa Rica aiming for Italian scalp

Costa Rica aiming for Italian scalp
Costa Rica's team players take part in a training session. AFP

by Staff Reporter

Thursday Jun 19, 2014. 23:46

Costa Rica will be aiming to cause a second successive World Cup upset when they take on Group D rivals Italy at the Arena Pernambuco on Friday evening, kick-off at 18h00 (CAT).

Los Ticos caused up a stir when they created the biggest shock in the first round of group matches by defeating Uruguay 3-1 in their opening match.

Their performance echoed that of Costa Rica’s shock qualification into the knockout stages 24 years ago when they progressed into the Last 16 from a group that comprised of Brazil.

Playing a crucial role in that surprising success was Alexandre ‘Giuma’ Borges, whose pass set up teammate Hernan Medford for the goal two minutes from time that gave them a 2-1 victory over Sweden and secured their place in the last 16.

Now, Alexandre’s son, Celso Borges is dreaming of helping his nation secure the same fate when they come up against the 2006 World Cup winners buoyed by their impressive stunner against Uruguay.

"I was two years old, it's hard for me to remember but I've seen the videos and over time I've realised how important that pass, that goal, was and I'm hugely proud that my father played his part in such a sporting moment," said the 26-year-old, who plies his club trade in Sweden for AIK Solna.

It is certainly looking promising for Borges, whose classy display in the play-making role in Saturday’s victory put them in touching distance of progression.

Equally, Italy are also just 90 minutes away from potential qualification out of the group stages and they are fully aware what a victory over Los Ticos would mean.

Despite having to endure a rocky build-up to the match in Manaus against England, the Azzurri prospered well.

Gianluigi Buffon and Mattia De Sciglio were both missing from injury, but commanding displays from Salvatore Sirigu, Antonio Candreva and Matteo Darmian superseded their absence.

Costa Rica’s victory over Uruguay may have handed them a favour, in that they may not need to beat Oscar Tabarez’s side on the final matchday, but that would mean having to make sure they don’t slip up against Costa Rica.

“It was better for us that Costa Rica beat Uruguay otherwise we would have risked underestimating them. Now we won't," said Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi.

"We have to have the right fear. There are no longer weak teams in the tournament, as many players play in Europe and are competitive. Costa Rica showed they are a good side and that they have interesting players. But to win on Friday would guarantee us qualification to the next round."

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