The Central Americans are putting the finishing touches to their preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Costa Rica will lock horns with Nigeria at the country’s National Stadium in San Jose in what is the first of Los Ticos’ last two friendly matches before the start of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar.
In Qatar, Costa Rica will not face any African opposition in the round-robin stage, having been grouped with Spain, Japan, and Germany.
But La Tricolor have resolved to test their wits and might against three-time African champions, the Super Eagles.
The Super Eagles will not be in Qatar after losing out on a World Cup ticket to eternal rivals Ghana in the final playoffs.
But pride will be at stake for the West Africans as they seek to pad their unpleasant record against North American teams.
Nigerian team news
The Super Eagles arrived in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica and the match venue, early Monday morning.
The Nigerian delegation comprised of, but not limited to, two coaches and 18 home-based players and have been lodged at Real Intercontinental Hotel, San Jose.
In the absence of foreign Super Eagles stars such as Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Everton’s Alex Iwobi, and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze, coach Salisu Yusuf will look to count on the abilities of the players drawn from clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League.
Costa Rican team news
Los Ticos are making their seventh appearance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and are keen to make an impression similar to 2014 when they reached the quarterfinals before losing out to the Netherlands on penalties.
This current Costa Rican side is not as talented as that 2014 team, but they still boast the experience of PSG’s shot-stopper Keylor Navas (PSG), former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell, and captain Bryan Ruiz.
Preparations have gone smoothly so far, with La Tricolor losing none of their last four matches. That decent run also includes notable victories over Martinique, New Zealand, and Uzbekistan.
And adding Nigeria to that list just before the Mundial kicks off will boost morale in La Tricolor’s camp in no small measure.
The San Jose friendly will be the first international match between Costa Rica and Nigeria.
Los Ticos, however, have a mixed record against African opposition. Costa Rica boast one win each over Cameroon and Tunisia but have suffered two defeats to South Africa.
By contrast, Nigeria have an ugly record against CONCACAF representatives.
The Super Eagles have lost three of six matches to Mexico, tasted defeat twice in three games against the United States, and have won just two of six games against Jamaica.
Competition: International friendly match
Game: Costa Rica vs. Nigeria
Venue: National Stadium in San Jose
Date: Thursday, 10th November 2022
Kickoff time: 3 am, Nigerian time
Costa Rica will play their last friendly match with Iran next week before lining up for their World Cup opening match versus Spain on November 23.
Nigeria will have many of their best players back in the Super Eagles squad ahead of a more anticipated friendly against Portugal on November 17.
Costa Rica will be favourites to win as they have the advantage of playing in front of their home fans against an under-strength Nigerian team.
This clash would have taken a completely different complexion if the Super Eagles had travelled to San Jose with Atalanta’s Ademola Lookman, KRC Genk’s Paul Onuachu, and Lorient’s Terem Moffi, three of the most in-form players in the world at the moment.
The Super Eagles B are an unpredictable lot, but there is enough raw talent in the squad to cause La Tricolor some problems.
A win for Costa Rica, though, will not surprise many.
Betting tip: Both teams to score
Correct score tip: Costa Rica 2-1 Nigeria