World Cup news

Costa Rica coach questions England

December 9, 2013
By ESPN staff

Costa Rica coach Bora Milutinovic has warned England not to expect his side to be pushovers at the 2014 World Cup.

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England have been drawn alongside Uruguay, currently ranked sixth in the FIFA rankings, Italy, runners-up at Euro 2012, and Costa Rica in Group D.

Costa Rica are viewed as the weakest side in the group, but Milutinovic, a veteran of five World Cup campaigns, and the man who masterminded Costa Rica victories against Scotland and Sweden and a 1-0 loss to Brazil at the 1990 World Cup to qualify for the second phase, believes his side have the right mentality to produce another shock.

"At this World Cup there will be some great coaches," he said. "Roy Hodgson is a great coach and England have some good players. The question, for me, is whether they can show it on the field. I don't know if they can. But I think Costa Rica have the mentality to beat England. In fact, I know they do because of what happened with my side in 1990."

"We played against Scotland, a great Scotland, with many good players, in Genoa and we won, 1-0. Then we also played Sweden. If someone asked us before the game if we could win, and we said we could, they'd have looked at us as if we were crazy. They would have called us crazy but we did win and won well.

"Because you never know, because you can never predict what will happen, this is why football is the greatest sport. Of course, England will be favourites but the Costa Rica players will look back on 1990 and know it is possible, that they can win."

If England are to stand any chance of progressing past the group stage and further, then self-belief is key, according to Milutinovic, and he believes they are capable of putting in a positive performance in Brazil.

He said: "I tell you something: for me the biggest surprise in world football is that a big country, a great football country, like England, can think it doesn't have a chance. Of course you have a chance but you need to believe, you need to trust in your character, as players and as a team, your quality. You have players the world knows and when you have good players anything is possible."

Following Friday’s draw Hodgson acknowledged Costa Rica’s threat and refused to underestimate them.

"It is going to be quite difficult to put a positive spin on the quality of our opponents," he said. "Costa Rica might be the least known but they are a very strong team."

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