Costa Rica have sealed the final spot at the 2022 World Cup after they beat New Zealand 1-0 in Qatar.
Los Ticos came into the game having won six of their last seven matches in qualification, getting themselves a play-off spot against New Zealand who dominated the OFC qualification period but who came into the game off the back of a loss and a draw.
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New Zealand were already facing an uphill task but that got a bit too steep when a surging run down the left from Jewison Bennette ended with him curling a delightful low cross into the box.
Arriving late was the former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell. The 29 year-old currenlt playing at Monterrey in Mexico rolled back the years with a guided finish, slap-shooting the ball low into the bottom corner of the net.
That was in in terms of goals but just before half-time Chris Wood did score an equaliser for New Zealand only to see it ruled out for a foul earlier in the move from Matthew Garbett.
Costa Rica now head to their sixth World Cup since they first made their bow at Italia ’90. More impressively this now makes it three consecutive finals appearances for Los Ticos after they featured in both 2014 and 2018.
Of course their run to the 2014 quarter-finals under the management of Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto is the stuff of legend. Now they are heading back to the World Cup with another Colombian coach (Luis Fernando Suarez) they will dream of another deep run.
Costa Rica will be bringing with them some familiar faces besides Joel Campbell. There is captain Bryan Ruiz, once of Fulham, who sits on a massive 137 caps. Then there’s Celso Borges who has an even more ridiculous 145 caps.
Both men play back in Costa Rica for Alajuelense, but they do have two players still at the highest level of European football. Centre-back Oscar Duarte (66 caps) plays for Levante while three-time Champions League-winning goalkeeper Keylor Navas is still at PSG and kept a crucial clean sheet today as Costa Rica confirmed their place in Qatar.
The final list of all 32 teams that have qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is as follows:
- Qatar (hosts)
- France (holders)
- United States of America
- South Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Costa Rica