The dream of continuing on in the World Cup is now a reality. Costa Rica’s national soccer team (La Seleccion or La Sele) reached the quarter finals of the Brazil World Cup by beating Greece in penalty kicks.
The Costa Rican team made history, as it is the first time the country has qualified for the quarterfinals of a world championship.
In the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Costa Rica reached the round of 16, only to lose 4-1 to the Czechoslovakian squad. In Japan and Korea in 2002, as well as in Germany in 2010, the Sele was eliminated during the group stage (the first phase of the tournament).
Nicoyans began preparing for the highly-anticipated game early. Three hours before game time, people began to gather in Recaredo Briceño Park. However, many quickly left in disappointment, as the images projected onto screens were too faint and blurry; the Municipality and Coopealianza had not installed television screens as they had promised.
Some fans returned home and others looked for a bar or restaurant to watch the game.
Another problem happened two hours before the game started, as electrical service in the city of Nicoya failed, causing alarm among many. An electric pole that could no longer withstand tension on the lines fell in the area of Hotel el Regalo, according to Coopeguanacaste. The outage lasted for about a half hour.
Game time arrived, and everyone became more nervous with each passing moment. In bars, pizzerias and restaurants of downtown Nicoya, there were some nervous smiles while hope remained subdued among the fans, who were anxious to be able to celebrate.
The party began in the twelfth minute of the second half with a goal by Bryan Ruiz, giving fans reason to dream. However, nine minutes later, Oscar Duarte was ejected from the game following a second yellow card, leaving the Costa Rican squad with just ten players on the field.
For their part, the Greeks took advantage of the extra space on the field. Moments before Costa Rica was set to end the game victoriously, Sokratis scored in stoppage time to tie the game.
A terrible agony followed during extra time. La Sele was visibly tired, but was able to reach the final whistle without allowing any more goals. The game proceeded to penalty kicks, and Keilor Navas finished off the game with a save on the fifth Greek penalty try.
The Sele’s great feat caused immediate, crazy celebration in every corner of Costa Rica, and Nicoya was no exception. Thousands of people came out to the streets. There was collective hysteria everywhere one looked. Dances with puppets screams of “Ticos Ticos, yes we could, yes we could,” were deafening in the colonial city.
In Garza de Nosara there was also a lot of celebration, with people in the streets joyfully partying because of the Sele’s accomplishment.
“Here we are celebrating big time; at first we felt nervous, but after Bryan Ruiz’s goal we were confident and here people ran out into the streets in complete celebration,” said Betsy Chavarria, a resident of Playa Garza.
In Nosara, the restaurant Rancho Tico was the meeting place for the game. Despite suffocating heat, no one took their eyes off the television screens. As expected in Nosara, people of all nationalities were suffering and celebrating together during the heart-stopping game that the Sele played against Greece.
After the game, a large caravan of vehicles toured the streets of Nosara and then steered towards Playa Pelada, finally arriving at Rancho Tico.
Costa Rica will play again on Saturday, July 5 in their quarterfinal game against Holland at 2 p.m.