Just when you thought Costa Rica's World Cup qualifying hopes couldn't get any worse, they manage to get worse.
Just a week after seeing head coach fired Rodrigo Kenton and replaced by Rene Simoes, the "Ticos' have now lost standout central midfielder Celso Borges for the remainder of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying after he suffered an injury while playing with Norwegian club team Fredrickstad, an injury he blamed on the artificial turf. Borges is expected to be sidelined for two weeks.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Costa Rica also lost a veteran defender to a suspension after being caught at a local beach when he was supposed to have reported to national team camp.
Borges' injury is a major blow for Costa Rica, which has remaining World Cup qualifiers vs. Trinidad & Tobago and the United States. Borges is one of Costa Rica's two best players, along with, and perhaps most influential, as evidenced by his ascendancy to the role of Costa Rica captain at the age of 21. He has posted a team-high five goals in World Cup qualifying this cycle.
His loss in central midfield could be devastating against a T&T squad that impressed against the United States last time out, not to mention being a tough blow to the Costa Rican team's chances of securing the necessary through points from its visit to the United States next week. Borges was a dominating figure in Costa Rica's 3-1 win vs. the United States in June's World Cup qualifying meeting in San Jose, with Borges providing a goal.
Costa Rica has called on KAA Gent midfielder Randall Azofeifa to replace Borges.
Borges' injury isn't the only unfortunate news for Costa Rica. The national team also saw veteran defender Gilberto Martinez suspended by the federation after being spotted at the beach when he was supposed to have reported to the national team. Martinez hasn't played with Costa Rica since the 2006 World Cup, but would certainly have been a defensive option for Simoes if he had not been suspended.
Costa Rica current sits in fourth place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, a point behind Honduras for the final automatic World Cup qualifying place. If Costa Rica cannot improve on its place, it will be forced into a two-leg playoff series against the fifth-place finisher from South America.
What do you think of these developments? Starting to feel a little better about the USA qualifier at RFK Stadium next week? Still hoping the USA can win a point or three in Honduras? Think Costa Rica is destined for fourth place in CONCACAF?
Share your thoughts below.