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Soccer-Costa Rica aim to keep "surprising the world", says Pinto

Reuters

By Philip O'Connor

RECIFE, Brazil, June 28 (Reuters) - Costa Rica have every intention of continuing to gatecrash the World Cup party when they take on Greece in the last 16 on Sunday, coach Jorge Luis Pinto said.

Pinto's unbeaten Ticos can become the first Costa Rican side to make the quarter-finals of the World Cup with another victory at the Pernambuco arena. Their previous visit on June 20 ended in a 1-0 win over Italy, putting them on the road to finish surprise Group D winners.

"We are really doing our job, we're writing history of football for our country," Pinto told reporters on Saturday. "We want to do things well. We know that Costa Rica is enjoying this to the maximum.

"We came here with the tag of dark horses, and we've surprised the world," the 61-year-old said. "Since we came here we've trusted in ourselves, we have no ceiling for our performance. I can't tell you how far we're going to go, but we want to go as far as possible."

Midfielder Michael Barrantes echoed his coach's sentiments.

"When we left home, we came to write history. We got this tag, but we're no longer the dark horse."

Barrantes, who has been restricted to two substitute appearances in Brazil, said the atmosphere in the squad was good, even among those who have yet to feature in the tournament.

"You must understand, only 11 can play, plus three substitutes," the 30-year-old said. "Those on the bench have done a great job, handled it well and that is one of the most important elements - we're a strong group, united.

"The team is cool and calm, relaxed, but it's not the kind of relaxation that says 'we've made it' - we are really concentrating on achieving our goal."

Despite seeing off three former world champions to top Group D, coach Pinto claimed that his side will not be favourites against 2004 European champions Greece, the only side to qualify for the knockout stage with a negative goal difference.

"We're not favourites, we're going to face off against a great team," Pinto said. "Greece is a great team, and they have the merits to go further.

"We will give Greece all they respect they deserve."

The Colombian-born Costa Rica coach brushed off suggestions that he had already made plans to stay in Brazil until the weekend of the final and third-place playoff, saying that instead he was concentrating on the task of beating Greece.

"Think big," he told reporters with a flicker of a smile. "Be realistic, but think big." (editing by Justin Palmer)

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