There’s no doubt about the surprise package of the World Cup this year: Costa Rica. As they put three past Uruguay, progressed at the expense of Italy and England, then became unlikely quarter finalists by beating Greece, it wasn’t just the 4.5m people from the small Central American nation cheering them on. There was also a fair few Norwegians.
Three players in the squad ply their trade in the Tippeligaen: Rosenborg’s Christian Gamboa, Aalesund’s Michael Barrantes and Vålerenga’s Diego Calvo. Gamboa has played every game in their remarkable run to the quarter finals so far. His biggest impact was in the opener, creating the two goals that turned the game against Uruguay on its head.
Barrantes, one of the stars of the 2013 Tippeligaen but struggling for form this time around, has only featured as a late substitute in the games against Uruguay and Italy, while Vålerenga’s Calvo has not yet featured.
If that’s not enough, the Costa Rica squad also contains five more players with a history in Norwegian football: Giancarlo Gonzalez (Vålerenga), Roy Miller (Bodø/Glimt and Rosenborg), Celso Borges (Fredrikstad), Christian Bolaños (Start) and Randall Brenes (Bodø/Glimt and Kongsvinger).
While it’s not exactly much to cheer about, the strong Norwegian connection does at least give fans a natural team to back: and the fact they’ve been the surprise package of the tournament is the icing on the cake.
TV2 commentator Petter Myhre said the following before the tournament:
“We have talked about importing to Tippeligaen over the last ten years, and Costa Rica is a country that might have been wise to scout in. They have the mentality and skills appropriate to Norwegian football. Some countries are better suited than others in terms of skills, and it seems that the Costa Rican players are well matched to the Tippeligaen”
As of last night, its just the Costa Ricans left representing the Tippeligaen. Rosenborg’s Mix Diskerud and his United States side were knocked out by Belgium after extra time late last night. Double frustration for Mix as he was just one of two outfield players not to feature in the tournament. Strømsgodset’s Adam Larsen Kwarasey (Ghana) and Stabæk’s Mande Sayouba (Ivory Coast) were eliminated with their teams in the group stages, having played just one and zero games respectively.
Next up for Costa Rica is the biggest game in their history: a World Cup quarter-final against the might of the Netherlands.
Norway will be watching…