Costa Rica cool ahead of Mexico friendly, Gold Cup

The play of Giancarlo Gonzalez (white jersey) will be key to Costa Rica's 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign. (Photo: Mexsport)

ORLANDO, Florida -- Costa Rica head coach Paulo Wanchope is confident his team will not only do well in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but that it can lift the trophy after the final on July 26. 

The Ticos have much to live up to after last year's superb run at the FIFA World Cup in which they reached the quarterfinals, before falling to the Netherlands on penalty kicks. 

"I have no doubts to travel to the Gold Cup, with the players we selected, that we have every chance of having a good tournament and winning it,” Wanchope said.  “We have many options and all the players want to play a part.  This opens many selection possibilities.” 

Wanchope likes what he has in a 23-man roster that includes defenders Giancarlo Gonzalez and Michael Umana, who anchored the backline in Brazil.  Forward Alvaro Saborio, the team’s leading scorer in qualifying with eight goals, missed the World Cup with a broken foot, but is back in the squad. 

With Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas out of action due to an Achilles injury, Wanchope is expected to turn to Alajuelense’s Patrick Pemberton. 

"Now we have clarity in what we want and the style that we’ll use," remarked Wanchope.  "We seek order, meaning good ball management and the possibility of creating good football.  Let's use the experience base of the players to acclimate the group.  The boys are starting this, but we have great conditions in order to contest the tournament in the best way." 

Before setting its sights on CONCACAF gold, Costa Rica will face Mexico in an international friendly at the Citrus Bowl on Saturday.  It will be the first meeting between them since the Central American champion posted a 2-1 win in a World Cup qualifier at home on October 15, 2013.  Bryan Ruiz and Saborio netted in victory, while Oribe Peralta found the back of the net for the Mexicans.

"Mexico is one of the big favorites to win the tournament," Wanchope finished.  "They will always be a cagey opponent and it will be a great tune-up to meet them prior to the Gold Cup." 

In Group B action at the Gold Cup, the Costa Ricans will meet Jamaica (July 8 in Carson, California), El Salvador (July 11 in Houston) and Canada (July 14 in Toronto).