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Costa Rica National Football Team

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About Costa Rica National Football Team

About the Costa Rica National Football Team

The national federation was born a century ago, but the Costa Rica National Football Team, aka Los Ticos, didn't truly arrive on the world stage until 1989, when a free kick found the head of Pastor Fernandez, and the ball in turn found the net. The goal gave Costa Rica a 1-0 victory over El Salvador and its first-ever berth in a World Cup. 

The Costa Ricans were just getting started. At the 1990 tournament, held in Italy, Los Ticos dropped Scotland, 1-0, with the lone goal coming on a pretty backheel from Claudio Jara to Juan Cayasso. They lost to Brazil by the same margin, and they closed out group play with a rally against Sweden, winning 2-1. Czechoslovakia would stop them in the first knockout round, but the Costa Ricans, in their debut, had made their mark.

Since then, Costa Rica has been a regular presence in the tournament, qualifying in 2002, 2006, 2014 and 2018, and fully establishing itself, alongside Mexico, as the cream of Central American soccer. With their defensive style of play, the Costa Ricans are a legit threat and could take down any team in the world. 

In 2014, Los Ticos, also known as La Sele ("The Selection"), made another surprise run in the World Cup, this time winning the so-called Group of Death — Uruguay, Italy and England — and beating Greece on penalty kicks in the Round of 16. The lasting image from the Greece victory is of goalkeeper Keylor Navas punching Theofanis Gekas' penalty kick skyward, a gorgeous windmilling save. Costa Rica again went to penalty kicks against the Netherlands, but this time their opponents prevailed.

The Costa Ricans play in the National Stadium of Costa Rica, in La Sabana Metropolitan Park, San José. It opened in 2011. The stadium was part of a trade agreement between Costa Rica and China, and the bill was footed entirely by the Chinese government.