Paulo Wanchope (pictured) went unbeaten in his stint as Costa Rica's interim head coach, following Jorge Luis Pinto's post-World Cup departure. (Photo: Mexsport)
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – An unforgettable 2014 concluded Thursday on a positive note for Costa Rica as it overcame host Uruguay on penalties, 7-6, after their friendly ended in a 3-3 draw.
The highly-successful season yielded a quarterfinal appearance in the FIFA World Cup and a Central American Cup title, which guaranteed automatic qualification to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2016 Centennial Cup America.
Not to be lost in all the positives is that the Ticos will take a 12-game unbeaten streak into January.
Team captain Bryan Ruiz, who scored Costa Rica’s second goal against the South Americans, was impressed by the quality of play on offer at the Estadio Centennario.
“It was a match of the first level, the two teams with their main men,” said the Fulham star. “I believe it was a beautiful match and the result was just. In general, a good job was done. It was a bit tough for us in the first half, but later we were successful in putting together our style of play.”
In his post-match press conference, Paulo Wanchope, Costa Rica’s interim head coach, voiced pride in his team’s performance.
“We close out a good cycle and we maintained the level,” said the 38-year-old. “Psychologically, the team is very strong. They know how to manage times in games. They know how to withstand the pressure well. It didn’t seem like a friendly. These are two teams that carry on improving with each day.”
The match was Wanchope’s last at the Costa Rica helm. He replaced Jorge Luis Pinto after Brazil 2014 and is confident that the person eventually named on a permanent basis will inherit a strong team.
“I have prepared myself for this, knowing how to overcome moments of crisis,” expressed the former Manchester City standout. “I focused on working. I took on this challenge with the conviction of leaving Costa Rica in a good spot.
“I saw it as an opportunity. I did not see it as something dangerous. It was my opportunity and thank God I took advantage of it. I feel happy and content. Costa Rica continues on a high.”