A fighting unit

Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz (left)battles with Japan’s Keisuke Honda during a friendly on June 2 in Tampa, Florida. Ruiz will be his side’s chief attacking threat in Brazil.-AP Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz (left)battles with Japan’s Keisuke Honda during a friendly on June 2 in Tampa, Florida. Ruiz will be his side’s chief attacking threat in Brazil.

The arrival of Colombian Jorge Luis Pinto as Costa Rica’s national coach brought in a lot of positives. The Los Ticos, as the national team is fondly called, had an impressive run in the CONCACAF qualifying stage, finishing second.

Pinto’s arrival has signalled a palpable transformation in the team’s approach. The squad has successfully adapted to a system that essentially focuses on the robust approach of the central defenders. Despite the predominantly defensive mindset, the coach has also been able to infuse flexibility in the attacking front.

This approach was successfully tested in the qualifiers and the team’s defending came up for praise, as Pinto’s team conceded just seven goals in its ten Group games. Costa Rica is extremely hard to beat and the two defeats in the qualifiers came against United States and Honduras, away from home.

Pinto now needs to upgrade the side to survive in a virtual Group of death, which has England, Italy and Uruguay — all former world champions. The coach has prepared his team for the rigours and now it is up to his boys to stand up to the test, finding the right goal-scoring form in the tournament.

Bryan Ruiz, the PSV Eindhoven attacking midfielder, on loan from EPL club Fulham, will be Costa Rica’s main man in this regard. Ruiz performed with real class during the qualifiers and would now need to use his dribbling skills against the fancied opponents. The lively Joel Campbell — who plays for the Greek club Olympiacos, on loan from English club Arsenal — is another man in the Costa Rican attack who can trouble the opposition on his day. In Keylor Navas, Costa Rica has a good goalkeeper, whose La Liga experience will certainly come to its help.