Los Ticos to seal final 2022 FIFA World Cup spot
The last berth at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is up for grabs in Doha on Tuesday night. CONCACAF side Costa Rica finished fourth in the final qualifying stage, losing out to the USA for an automatic place by virtue of goal difference. In stark contrast, they face a New Zealand outfit that had a very abridged OFC campaign, having only had to play five matches because of Covid disrupting the confederation's schedule to reach this point. Nevertheless, they'll still be up against it when they take on Los Ticos. Read our preview here:
Luis Fernando Suárez's charges have had a strong calendar year to date, only losing once in eight competitive games (away to Panama last week in the Nations League), and will be feeling reasonably confident about their chances. The roster is replete with players well over 30, whose last major tournament is likely to be this winter, should they reach it. Even so, there are younger talents coming through in tandem with a strong spine of domestically based players. Keysher Fuller will patrol the right flank from defence, pushing high up to squeeze his opponents into their own third. Veterans Bryan Ruiz and Celso Borges are certain to start in midfield, lending experience and big-game know-how to the team.
The All Whites' major problem is scoring goals against quality opposition, and have prepared for this high stakes clash by drawing successive blanks against Peru and Oman in the relentless heat of summer in the Middle East. Other than in defence, Danny Hay's squad is far younger than his adversary's, and much will rely on a combination of their stoicism and fashioning Newcastle United's Chris Wood with meaningful opportunities. The target man will hope to have both Elijah Just and Logan Rogerson in close support to prevent being isolated up top.
Having last qualified for the World Cup in 2010 where they were undefeated but ultimately eliminated from a group containing Italy, Paraguay, and Slovakia, this is likely to be the last men's tournament where an automatic spot for New Zealand and their confederation isn't a certainty. They know that Costa Rica arguably have more experience and flair in their ranks, and it promises to be another tense affair for the very last berth. The CONCACAF side are placed at odds of 3.00 with Casumo to be winning at both half and full-time.