Ramirez rejects talk of cautious Costa Rica

Costa Rica fell to a damaging 1-0 defeat against Serbia in their Group E opener but coach Oscar Ramirez defended his side's game plan.

Costa Rica's Johan Venegas (right) fights for the ball with Serbia's Branislav Ivanovic during a Group E match against Serbia.   -  AP

Oscar Ramirez was adamant there was nothing wrong with Costa Rica's strategy following its 1-0 World Cup defeat to Serbia.

The 2014 quarterfinalist was undone by Aleksandar Kolarov's sensational free-kick shortly before the hour mark in its Group E opener in Samara on Sunday.

Costa Rica was left to rue a glaring miss by defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, who sent a free header over the bar from six yards out in the 12th minute.

Even after going behind, Ramirez's side struggled to create clear-cut chances but the head coach rejected the suggestion Costa Rica had been too defensive in its approach.

"Those who've been to a World Cup before know first matches are complicated and I get the impression in the first 20 to 25 minutes we were very close to achieving something and we did what we could," he told a media conference when questioned about his tactics.

"We had a tactical plan in place with the subs we put on, we tried to execute our plan but they managed to score on a set-piece. I don't see things the way you described them.

"We work with a flexible defence. Maybe at some stage you saw five defenders but we work depending on the situation.

"So I don't agree with your characterisation, it's not a wall, it switches to 3-4-3 or 4-4-2 depending on the situation. It depends what's going on on the pitch at the time."

'We'll do the best we can'

With Brazil and Switzerland still to come in Group E, Costa Rica is facing an uphill struggle to reach the knockout stages, though Ramirez remains optimistic over the team's chances.

"It would have been very important to win but we still want to qualify," he said. "We're against second and sixth in the FIFA rankings and it will be difficult but our intention remains the same. I told the lads it's not over and we need to continue to be ambitious.

"From what I've seen in the locker room we still believe in our opportunities. We know it will be hard, this would have been a good opportunity to have a buffer ahead of those games but who knows.

"We are in the situation we are in and we'll do the best we can."

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