Costa Rica’s Failures Highlight CONCACAF’s Weakness
CONCACAF is considered by many a European football pundit the weakest Confederation that gets a full spot in the World Cup. For years, I have argued vociferously against this attitude, claiming among other things that if a big team ever had to pay a visit to San Jose’s vaunted Saprissa Stadium, they’d come out defeated and downtrodden.
Well, I clearly was wrong. Last night, the Ticos showed precisely why they could not qualify for the World Cup from a weak Confederation. Despite reaching back and calling in a number of grizzled veterans that have qualified twice previously, Rene Simoes’ side was badly outclassed by a Uruguay team that had looked less than convincing in the later stages of COMNEBOL qualifying.
While the Ticos looked good in spots, to be so badly overwhelmed at home by a mediocre COMNEBOL side reinforced the stigma CONCACAF has had a hard time shaking. Not a single UEFA playoff match yesterday (I watched all four) saw the home team so badly out maneuvered and seemingly on the back foot all day long. The one loss a home side suffered, in Dublin was a fluke result based on the balance of play, quality of the teams and tactics employed by the respective managers.
Yesterday, in the intercontinental playoff, Bahrain and New Zealand gave us a classic. The Kiwi’s came out on top, but the Middle Eastern side certainly competed at a high level away from home. Sadly, the Ticos gave us none of the quality, drama and fight, you would expect from a team that really believed they deserve a World Cup bid. Maybe, psychologically they checked out after Jonathan Bornstein’s goal, or maybe the Confederation simply isn’t very good.
You can read much more on this topic at Set Piece Analysts.