Pinto looks for change of World Cup fortune

AFP| Last Updated: May 14, 2014, 11:05 AM IST

Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto could be forgiven for thinking the World Cup gods are against him.

After failing to take the Central American side to the 2006 finals and then proving equally as unsuccessful with his native Colombia for the 2010 campaign, the 61-year-old now has theft to contend with.

Just last month, Pinto`s notes for a book he was writing, his iPad, contact details and scouting reports on World Cup rivals England, Italy and Uruguay were all stolen from his car parked outside a restaurant in San Jose.

"They stole details of all my press conferences, my cellphone, cash, personal papers. They also took a book I have had for 20 years which contained the numbers of friends and people in football," said Pinto.

"Now where am I going to get those numbers?"

Such misfortunes are nothing new to pint-sized, 1.65m (5ft 5in) Pinto.

In his 30-year coaching career, he has managed Costa Rica and Colombia as well as 12 different clubs -- some of them more than once -- in his native Colombia as well as Costa Rica, Peru, Venezuela and Ecuador.

But with a national squad featuring more and more players forging their skills in the tough European leagues -- men like Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell -- luck may be turning for Pinto.

Costa Rica qualified for Brazil in second spot in the final CONCACAF round, behind the United States but ahead of Mexico who were forced into a play-off.

In 10 games in the final phase, they conceded just seven goals and won all five of their home games.

"The size of the country is not important," said Pinto of the tiny Central American nation which does not even have an army.

"It`s the quality of the football that matters and Costa Rica has that quality. Men, women and children adore the game and that really benefits the team.

"We all love football. Without that passion there is no success."

Costa Rica`s best performance in a World Cup came in Italy in 1990 when, under the guidance of the colourful Bora Milutinovic, they defeated Sweden and Scotland in the group stage to reach the last-16 where they fell to the Czechs.

Campbell, the Arsenal winger who has spent the last season on loan at Olympiakos in Greece, believes Pinto has managed to gel a winning spirit within the squad which could shock their more-fancied rivals.

"He has definite ideas about how he wants us to play and we work on those ideas in training," he said.