Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 5th 2014 Contents The irresistible fairytale of Costa Rica
faces a day of reckoning against Louis van
Gaal s hard, calculating Netherlands side
today in the 2014 FIFA World Cup most
Few believed that Costa Rica, a small
Central American country with an undis-
tinguished footballing record, would still be
standing, especially after a group including
Italy, England and Uruguay. Yet Los Ticos
shocked Uruguay and Italy to top a group
bracketing three World Cup winners, before
battling past Greece on penalties after play-
ing an hour with only 10 men.
Despite the talents of Joel Campbell and
Bryan Ruiz in attack, it has been more a
case of grit and organisation than Latin flair
with Jorge Luis Pinto s side conceding only
two goals so far and scoring five.
Costa Rica have already outdone their
best World Cup performance, reaching the
last 16 in 1990, much to the jubilation of
fans back home whose celebrations have
stretched long into the night.
Whether the parties continue depends
on the Netherlands, whose hard-nosed
approach and late comebacks have already
dashed the dreams of millions of fans in
Chile and Mexico.
The 2010 finalists began the World Cup
with a heady 5-1 rout of reigning champions
Spain, and then came from behind to beat
Objections surfaced over their counter-
attacking style after the 2-0 win against
Chile, which was achieved with two late
goals and with veteran forward Dirk Kuyt
Arjen Robben s duel against Keylor Navas,
one of the World Cup s goalkeeping heroes
whose one-handed penalty stop denied
Greece, will be closely watched.
Navas, who is expected to recover from
a shoulder injury, can also expect a work-
out from Robin van Persie with emerging
PSV Eindhoven star Memphis Depay likely
to figure later on.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, July 5, 2014
Fans pick Fred as Brazil's worst
SAO PAULO---A new poll published yesterday
makes it official: Fans feel that striker Fred is
the worst player on Brazil's World Cup squad.
The respected Datafolha polling group says that
for 21 per cent of the close to 3,000 people
questioned, the Fluminense forward is the
Brazilian team's worst player.
Nine per cent said striker Hulk, and six per
cent said defender Dani Alves, who was
removed from the starting lineup for yesterday's
quarterfinal against Colombia.
No surprise: For 56 per cent of the
respondents, striker Neymar is the team's best
player. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar is a distant
second with 10 per cent. Datafolha questioned
2,857 people, and the poll has a margin of error
of two percentage points.
FORTALEZA, BRAZIL---Taking advantage of
the huge Colombian crowd accompanying the
national team at the World Cup in Brazil,
Colombia's main newspaper handed out free
copies of its daily to fans who showed up for
yesterday's quarterfinal match against the
Youngsters dressed in the Colombian
colours---blue, yellow and red---were giving away
a special edition of the El Tiempo newspaper at
traffic lights outside the Arena Castelao in the
northeastern city of Fortaleza.
The newspaper says it's the first time in its
103-year history that it's being published in
The edition being handed out in Brazil has 12
pages of coverage about the Colombian team
and the World Cup in general.
Colombia has one of the biggest fan bases in
Brazil, packing stadiums and host cities
everywhere the team has played. Colombians
were the majority in the crowd in each of the
team's first four matches.
Uplifting Swiss fans
ABOARD SWISS AIR FLIGHT LX093---
Disheartened Swiss fans returning to Zurich
after their country's 1-0 World Cup loss to
Argentina could at least take comfort in one
parting treat---they were flying home with their
Faces perked up at the departure gate
moments before boarding when coach Ottmar
Hitzfeld and his players strode in. Some stopped
to sign autographs and briefly mingled with fans
still sporting the team's red paraphernalia. On
board, the players were greeted with
champagne and a Swiss-decorated football was
draped in a team scarf.
Swiss flags were placed inside the cabin and
each player's name appeared on his designated
business class seat. Fans quickly snapped selfies
with the players, and once everyone was seated,
the captain of Swiss Air flight LX093---even
before announcing the duration and altitude---
welcomed the team aboard and said the country
was proud of their valiant effort against the
heavily favoured Argentines.
Most players were not eager to speak to a
reporter. Others said the memory of Angel di
Maria's crushing 118th minute goal was still too
Mario Stalder, a 46-year-old fan from Bern,
said flying home with the team offered a fitting
coda to his three-week journey in Brazil. Still, he
would gladly have forgone the experience in
favour of another.
SAO PAULO---No way is Jurgen Klinsmann
going against the home Brazilians in this World
The US coach believes the Selecao are making
quite a run at their sixth World Cup
championship, even if his homeland of Germany
is still in the tournament while the Americans
It was at the Opening Match of Spain 1982 that
Belgium achieved one of the greatest results in their
history in beating Diego Maradona s Albiceleste 1-
0. Four years later, the nation made an even more
indelible mark on the competition by reaching the
semi-finals, where they came across El Pibe de Oro
This time a truly inspired Maradona consigned
Les Diables Rouges to a 2-0 defeat, though the Bel-
gians still look back on that run with as much wistful
satisfaction as they do when they reflect on their
surprise win of four years earlier.
While only a handful of the current Red Devils
squad had been born when the second of those feats
took place, they will have the honour of resuming
Belgium s World Cup rivalry with the two-time World
Cup winners in the first of today s two quarter-finals
at Brazil 2014.
Lining up for the men in red will be midfielder
Eden Hazard, who is relishing the opportunity to
join the heroes of yesteryear in becoming part of his
country s footballing folklore.
Jean-Marie Pfaff would like nothing more than to
see that. Like his colleagues in the team that broke
new ground in Mexico 28 years ago, the former goal-
keeper believes they showed Hazard and Co the way.
After being made to sweat in advancing from their
group at Mexico 1986, Pfaff and his cohorts produced
their best football in the Round of 16 against a USSR
side regarded as one of the favourites.
Current coach and former international Marc
Wilmots was 17 at the time and remembers it all as
if it were yesterday. Watching on TV back home in
Belgium, he was able to sense just how much the
World Cup can inspire players to push themselves
and achieve new goals.
Costa Rica celebrates its Round of 16 qualification in the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Belgium's Daniel Van Buyten complains to the referee behind United States'
goalkeeper Tim Howard during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between
Belgium and the USA at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, on Tuesday.
Costa Rica fairytale
faces Dutch reckoning
Argentina holds no fear for bold Belgium
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