World Cup: Costa Rica proved their worth - Pinto

World Cup: Costa Rica proved their worth - Pinto
PINTO: We have proved we can play good football and this makes me feel proud.
BELO HORIZONTE: Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto felt his side proved their worth by qualifying for the World Cup last 16 as group winners following Tuesday's 0-0 draw with England.

"We have proved we can play good football and this makes me feel proud," said the Colombian, whose side finished unbeaten at the top of Group D after previous shock wins over Uruguay and Italy.

"It means our players deserve recognition. We're going to keep this style and this philosophy, so people say it's not luck.

"Some people had doubts after the Uruguay game (a 3-1 win). People started believing after the game against Italy (1-0) and with this match, we have proved that Costa Rica can do a lot."
Costa Rica were widely predicted to finish bottom of the group and their sensational performance carries echoes of their tournament debut in 1990, when a similarly unheralded side also reached the last 16.

While they failed to score for the first time since arriving in Brazil against eliminated England, Pinto said he took great pride from the enterprise his team have shown in their three matches to date.

"Our team is a very even team," he told a post-game press conference at Belo Horizonte's Estadio Mineirao.

"I think technically, everyone has to know how to defend and how to attack. We're not worried about just defending, just attacking, or just staying in our half.

"We're doing something unexpected. Some people said we'd only defend, but that's not true. You've seen it. We've been able to attack as well and that's why we're very proud.

"We come from a country where people like to play football, so I'm very glad my players have been so good with the ball. They try to keep possession. It shows what kind of players I have."

There is a slim chance Pinto will face his native Colombia in the last 16, depending on the outcome of the concluding Group C games later on Tuesday, but he vowed that his side would be prepared regardless of their opponents.

"I've been ready to face Colombia for the last six months. They're a wonderful team, so I'd love to play against them," he said.

"But whether we play Ivory Coast or Greece or Japan, we're going to try and win. After our results so far, I trust my players.

"They're doing what we expect of them -- playing as a team, well prepared physically and tactically. We're ready to face whoever. Any of the four, we're ready to face them."