4 July 2014 15:32
Cristian Bolanos has urged his Costa Rica team-mates to continue to defy the odds and go down in FIFA World Cup history.
Jorge Luis Pinto’s men have provided one of the stories of the tournament so far, winning a tough-looking Group D before overcoming Greece on penalties in the second round.
Largely unfancied prior to the finals, Costa Rica beat both Italy and Uruguay in the group stages, before a goalless draw with England sealed their top-spot placing.
With a last-16 exit in Italy in 1990 their previous best at a finals, Pinto’s side have already become the most successful in Costa Rican history and ahead of their quarter-final tie with Netherlands in Salvador on Saturday, Bolanos issued a rallying cry to the rest of the squad to maintain the strong worth ethic that has got them this far.
“We have faced tough tests, and the fact that we have come through them has helped the squad grow, but this has not happened overnight,” he told dpa.
“In today’s football you cannot win a match just because you go in there and dream that you are going to score a goal, there has to be work to back it up.
“We don’t want to go home; we want to play the next match, win it and see what’s next. We are doing that as if we had been doing it all our lives, and that is a beautiful feeling.
“Here, the group has that wish to make history, and the only responsibility we had was to match what Costa Rica had done in Italy 1990.
“The truth is that on paper we are one of the weakest national teams, I accept that, but nowadays in football distances have shrunk.
“In this team, although its players are very young, we understood that (the World Cup) was an opportunity, a springboard. If we each thought in individual terms we would not have achieved such success.
“The team is above that, and individual opportunities will come later.”