Costa Rica: Win and In
Everything! That’s basically the answer of what it would mean for Costa Rica to qualify for the World Cup. In Costa Rica, soccer predominates on the menu for breakfast, lunch, coffee breaks and dinner. Therefore, qualifying – or not – for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar would have a huge impact, socially and economically speaking.
After some rather complicated regional qualifiers, Los Ticos are one victory away from reaching the promised land. New Zealand will be the last obstacle between Costa Rica and its sixth World Cup appearance. Since 2002, La Tricolor only missed the 2010 edition.
What’s Really at Stake?
Besides the golden ticket, qualifying for the World Cup means money. Each team gets $1.5 million to cover expenses prior to the event. Playing in the Group Stage means winning around $9 million. That prize could increase, considerably, if Costa Rica manages to advance. For example, qualifying for the Round of 8 would mean $17 million. That money would be invested in infrastructure and development programs for upcoming generations (one would think).
Now, in case of qualifying, Costa Rica would face Spain, Germany and Japan. Spain is the betting online favorite to win the group at -120. Not easy, not easy at all, but they faced a very similar scenario in Brazil 2014 and managed to reach the Round of 8. They won the Group of Death, which they shared with England, Italy, and Uruguay. Costa Rica defeated Greece in the Round of 16. Finally, in the Round of 8, they lost to the Netherlands on penalties.
Anyway, the Liga Promerica (Costa Rica’s top division) clubs would also benefit greatly. FIFA pays a hefty sum, per day, for each player that a team loans for the WC. To give you a better idea, Liga Deportiva Alajuelense and Club Sport Herediano have more than five players in La Tricolor. As Jerry Maguire would say: “Show me the money!”
Land of Opportunities
For players, the World Cup could open many doors, especially when they come from a small country such as Costa Rica. After a great performance in Brazil 2014, goalkeeper Keylor Navas was transferred from Levante to Real Madrid. Celso Borges finished the season with AIK (Sweden) and then signed with Deportivo La Coruna (Spain). Joel Campbell was loaned to Villarreal. You get the picture.
New contract or not, facing top-class players is a reward on its own. In some cases, it’s about facing a childhood idol. Let’s say Costa Rica qualifies for the World Cup and Brandon Aguilera, 19-year-old midfielder, gets the call. He was called for the last games of the qualifiers. He would get to face Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and, Sergio Busquets, to name a few. In other words, it can be a life-changing experience.
Soccer isn’t going to solve the world’s problems, but there’s no doubt that during the World Cup, sports enthusiasts are happier. That could translate into a lot of benefits for local businesses. As mentioned before, most people in Costa Rica love soccer. Bars and restaurants would be packed during the WC games. T-shirt sales would skyrocket. Overall, it would be great for small businesses that have suffered tremendously due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the Chances?
Costa Rica is a much more experienced team. That’s why Los Ticos are in control of the Las Vegas odds for the game against New Zealand. The All Whites have only played in two World Cups, in 1982 and 2010.
While Costa Rica faced teams like Mexico and the United States to get here, New Zealand faced teams like New Caledonia and Solomon Islands. Precisely, the All Whites defeated Solomon Islands 5-0 to get the ticket for the playoff.
Aside from Keylor Navas, Oscar Duarte, Bryan Ruiz, Bryan Oviedo, Borges and Campbell have plenty of experience playing in Europe. As for New Zealand, only Chris Wood can say the same.
Summing up, the chances are pretty good for Costa Rica. We’ll have a full preview of the game, including injury reports, predictions, and more so be sure to check our soccer news constantly.