Costa Rica manager Jorge Luis Pinto has hailed England the 'mother of football’, ahead of their World Cup clash this afternoon.
Having been widely considered the whipping boys of Group D in the run-up to the tournament, Costa Rica have defied all expectations to progress to the last 16 with a game to spare, following up their surprise 3-1 opening win over Uruguay with a miraculous 1-0 victory against Italy.
Final group opponents England may already be eliminated, following two straight defeats, but the Colombian still maintains his side are in for a tough battle, as they need just a draw to seal top spot.
‘The mother of football, England, can’t go back without a point,’ he said. ‘The match against them will be tough because England have to look for something to be proud of from this World Cup in Brazil.
‘They need to salvage something. This makes me think that it will be a balanced match because we are also going to give everything we have.’
Before the England game, Pinto also spoke of his disappointment at FIFA’s decision to submit seven of his players to drug tests following the upset win over Italy.
Rules stipulate that just two from each side need to be tested after a match, with FIFA later claiming that the extra five summoned had not undergone pre-tournament testing.
Nevertheless, the manager is disappointed that the event has cast suspicion over his team’s fantastic achievement and believes that they, as minnows, were unfairly targeted.
‘I would like to see FIFA ask Brazil for eight players for an anti-doping test,’ he stated. ‘That would be a fair situation for everyone. We respect that FIFA are free to do what they want. We’re not saying don’t test players but it should be the same for all countries.’
Fortunately, the incident has taken little away from the CONCACAF nation’s unexpected success, as the Ticos gear up for their first appearance in the World Cup’s knockout phase since 1990.
With the likes of Arsenal striker Joel Campbell, goalkeeper Keylor Navas and Fulham playmaker Bryan Ruiz all visibly in fine form too, Pinto’ side may even have a more upsets up their sleeve.