FILE - Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz controls the ball during a friendly soccer match against Uzbekistan in Suwon, South Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)
SAN JOSE — Three of Costa Rica’s greatest players will get one last shot at the World Cup playing together.
Goalkeeper Keylor Navas, forward Bryan Ruíz and midfielder Celso Borges were all part of the team that reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and then qualified again for the tournament in 2018.
The 37-year-old Ruíz has already said he will end his international career after this year’s tournament in Qatar.
Alongside the 35-year-old Navas and the 34-year-old Borges, Ruíz led Costa Rica to its best World Cup finish in Brazil. The team topped a group that included Italy, Uruguay and England, and then beat Greece on penalties in the round of 16.
Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suárez has said that Ruíz, who was not at his best during qualifying, will be in his squad because of his leadership over the years.
For the tournament in Qatar, Costa Rica again had a difficult draw, placed into Group E with Spain, Germany and Japan.
The Ticos will open against Spain on Nov. 23 before playing Japan four days later. The last match of the group stage will be against the Germans on Dec. 1.
“What matters most to me is that every one of our players has full awareness of the skills our rivals have,” Suárez said. “Spain has ball possession, Japan has width on the field, Germany has intensity.”
ANOTHER WORLD CUP
The 62-year-old Suárez has previous World Cup experience. The Colombian coach took Ecuador to the tournament in 2006 and Honduras to the 2014 edition. He is expected to remain as coach of Costa Rica for the next four years.
Costa Rica will play friendlies against Iraq and Nigeria before the World Cup starts.
Costa Rica is likely to take some new faces to Qatar, including 18-year-old midfielder Brandon Aguilera — recently signed by Nottingham Forest — and Sunderland winger Jewison Bennette.
Suárez brought the latter to the national team before he had even played in the country’s first division.
And it was Bennette who delivered the cross scored by Joel Campbell that gave Costa Rica its only goal in the international playoff victory over New Zealand.
Costa Rica will be playing in its sixth World Cup in Qatar. The team qualified in 1990, 2002 and 2006 before reaching the last two with Navas, Ruíz and Borges.
Former Chelsea and Newcastle forward Christian Atsu is missing and believed to be trapped under rubble following the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey on Monday and left more than 2,500 people dead.
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