Costa Rica have stunned the football experts all across the world with their stunning show in the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2014. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, former Indian skipper hailed their performance and said that considering the upsets, there are now no favourites to win the World Cup.
Excerpts from the conversation:
It is difficult to believe what happened yesterday. A small country like Costa Rica knocked out three former world champions from FIFA World Cup 2014. They didn’t even play against England, yet they have been knocked out. Are you surprised with the results in this World Cup so far?
I am very much surprised. This World Cup has already seen some of the biggest upsets – Spain was knocked out, Italy lost to Costa Rica, England lost to Uruguay. But all these upsets have made it an extremely interesting World Cup, which has seen a great start in the first round. Considering the way most of the predictions have gone wrong, it is now difficult to call anybody as favourites.
What do you have to say about Italy’s performance against Costa Rica?
Yes we got to see a different team altogether. It was a different team as compared to the one that played against England. We had expected a lot from Mario Balotelli and he couldn’t deliver. Not just him, the entire team played poorly and I think the climatic conditions had a role to play. Their passes were not spot on and it would have been a different game had Balotelli converted the chance he got. It was a collective failure for the entire team.
Costa Rica have reached in Round 16 for the first time in 24 years. It is still like a dream and hard to believe as everybody thought Costa Rica would be a punching bag.
Costa Rica’s coach had earlier said that to be a part of a group which had three former World Champions was a matter of pride for the team. The way Costa Rica players ran on the ground for 90 minutes, I don’t think the Italian players could match their stamina.
It was a special win for Costa Rica – a country which has a total population of around 4.3 million. They don’t have an army and the country’s President celebrated his team’s victory.
Nobody thought they were the favourites in their group. Everybody expected them to finish at the bottom. Their achievement is huge and as you can see, the entire country has been painted in red after that win.
The Costa Rica fans are now keen to watching their team’s meeting with England. They have already defeated two world champions and everybody now thinks England are the next in line.
England have nothing left to play as they have already been knocked out. It is also an inconsequential match for Costa Rica who can rest their key players for the match. But the way Costa Rica fans have been celebrating, their President standing on a table and celebrating shows his passion towards the game. The celebrations from the fans is probably creating a positive impact on the players.
There is now a lot of anger amid the English fans at the moment. The British press has also slammed the players for their pathetic show. The English players have hired special security for themselves and their families.
English fans are believed to be very passionate and temperamental. We have seen several such rough situations during the Premier League matches as well.
What do you have to say about Balotelli’s performance? He was expecting a kiss from England’s queen had they defeated Costa Rica.
I think the queen’s prayers have been answered. This World Cup was a great opportunity for Balotelli to get into the bracket of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But whether it is the Premier League or the Italian League, consistency has always been an issue with him. He will be outstanding in one match and will hardly be seen on the ground in the next one.