Costa Rica are among the six nations representing CONCACAF at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The nation from the Central America region is looking to make the most of their second-ever appearance in the tournament. Carrying the country’s best generation with a good blend of youth and experience in the squad, Amelia Valverde’s side can produce a spark in the tournament.
Costa Rica’s only other participation in the Women’s World Cup came in 2015. Their debut campaign ended in the group stages. Paired with three high-profile nations in Spain, Brazil and South Korea, Costa Rica gave a good account of themselves by losing only to Selecao and drawing with the rest. Raquel Rodriguez scored her nation’s first-ever goal in the tournament to give the lead against Spain in the 1-1 draw with the advantage only staying for a few minutes. Las Ticas also went ahead against South Korea but again failed to hold on to the lead for long as the opposition scored twice within minutes. Karla Villalobos's 89th strike made sure spoils were shared once again. There was no escaping in the final match with Brazil being too much to handle although the game ended in a 1-0 loss only. Costa Rica won hearts with their performance even it was not enough to move into the knockout stages.
Qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
Finishing second in Group B of the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship, Costa Rica secured automatic qualification to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. They finished three points off Canada in the first place and better than Panama in third who move to the playoffs. The eventual winners USA beat them in the semifinals 3-0 but their job was done. Katherine Alvarado and Cristín Granados got two goals each of the seven goals scored in that competition.
Preparation for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
Las Ticas took part in the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games held in Santa Tecla in June. They could only finish third in their group behind Venezuela and Centro Caribe Sports. Hence, failing to move into the knockout stages of the competition. Their only win came against fellow World Cup participants Haiti.
Costa Rica Squad for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023
Goalkeepers: Priscila Tapia (Saprissa FF), Daniela Solera (Sporting FC), Genésis Pérez (University of Central Florida)
Defenders: Mariana Benavides (Saprissa FF), María Paula Elizondo (Saprissa FF), Valeria del Campo (Monterrey), Fabiola Villalobos (Alajuelense), María Paula Coto (Alajuelense), Gabriela Guillén (Alajuelense), Carol Sánchez (Sporting FC)
Midfielders: Katherine Alvarado (Saprissa FF), Mariela Campos (Saprissa FF), Gloriana Villalobos (Saprissa FF), Emilie Valenciano (Alajuelense), Melissa Herrera (Bordeaux), Cristin Granados (Sporting FC), Alexandra Pinell (Alajuelense), Sheika Scott (Alajuelense), Raquel Rodríguez (Portland Thorns), Priscila Chinchilla (Free Agent)
Forwards: Catalina Estrada (Saprissa FF), Sofía Varela (Free Agent), María Paula Salas (Monterrey)
Head Coach: Amelia Valverde
Amelia Valverde made the controversial choice of leaving out Shirley Cruz from the squad entirely. Subsequently, the 37-year-old retired from the sport in June. Former captain for the side, Cruz was a lynchpin in Costa Rica’s midfield and had a successful career in her role.
The team’s greatest strength is unity and hard work which have helped them to this stage. Fighting for every ball and not fearing to hit the opposition at the right moment is a characteristic that has helped them in the tournament before. Also, the top players in their roles also have experiences from the 2015 edition. Players like Raquel Rodríguez, Melissa Herrera and Priscila Chinchilla are the difference makers Costa Rica have in their squad.
The calibre of opposition in the group will be a big headache for them to create any fairytale in the tournament. While they have the quality to raise some eyebrows, the efficiency of the rest will be a cut above this Costa Rican squad. Although they sustain tournament experience among some players in the squad, it is still young and just the raw nature of the side would not work at a massive tournament like this.
Key Player: Raquel Rodríguez
Portland Thorns midfielder Raquel Rodríguez is wishing to be the main difference maker in the Women’s World Cup 2023. Being the nation’s highest-ever goal scorer with 55 strikes to her name, Rodríguez will bring the flair and tenacity which will motivate the team. It was fitting that she scored the first goal for Costa Rica in a Women’s World Cup and is willing to create more history with her teammates. The 29-year-old will also be a leading figure in the dressing room.
How will Costa Rica Lineup at FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023?
Costa Rica FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Groups & Fixtures
Friday, 21 July 2023
Spain vs Costa Rica - Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington (13:00)
Wednesday, 26 July 2023
Japan vs Costa Rica - Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin (10:30)
Monday, 31 July 2023
Costa Rica vs Zambia - FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton (12:30)
Costa Rica’s heroics in the 2015 edition was eye-catching nevertheless. Now with a more talented squad at the helm, Amelia Valverde’s side will be optimistic about defying the odds to escape the group stages for the first time. But clubbed with a much-changed Spain eight years ago, despite their off-field issues, ever-present Japan and even Zambia with their deadly attack, Costa Rica will have a mammoth task in hand to stay in the competition. Avoiding finishing bottom of the group will be a tussle for this side.
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