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Soccer-Costa Rica fear backlash by 'mother of football' England

Reuters

By Andrew Cawthorne

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, June 23 (Reuters) - Giant-slayers Costa Rica must not look down their noses at eliminated England despite their remarkably different fortunes at the World Cup, the Central Americans' coach said on Monday.

Viewed as tournament underdogs, the 'Ticos' have already qualified for the next round after stunning wins over Uruguay and Italy, while England lost to the same opponents and are flying home straight after Tuesday's game against Costa Rica.

"The situation is quite complicated for the match," coach Jorge Luis Pinto said ahead of the game in Belo Horizonte.

"The mother of football cannot leave without points. They must take some pride, they can't just leave Brazil with their arms crossed. They're a young team with great potential for the future. They play well. It will be an aggressive game."

Pinto, whose team need a draw to guarantee top spot in the group and a second round match against the Group C runners-up, pinpointed pacy youngsters Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck as the main threat to his well-drilled defence.

As others have, he commiserated with England after the 'Three Lions' ironically showed more attacking flair than during their dour but more successful outing in South Africa in 2010.

"The English haven't been lucky in finding the goal. They kept getting to the box but didn't make the chances," he said. "They have the history and jersey. They're favourites tomorrow."

"WE WANT MORE"

Beyond the England game, Costa Rica are already focused on their next opponents, who could be Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan or Greece depending on how the final group games play out.

Pinto said he had studied each of them meticulously from videos and his informants at matches, and had no qualms if Costa Rica end up meeting his homeland Colombia.

Just in case of that scenario, four months ago he bought tickets for his family for Saturday's second-round match in Rio de Janeiro where Costa Rica would face Colombia should they end up second and first in their groups respectively.

"I've been prepared for everything," he told reporters, before leading his players for training at the Mineirao stadium.

Costa Rica, who last reached the second round in 1990, hae fully deserved their two wins so far and their camp is bouncing ahead of the England game and the knockout phase.

Though sticking to a five-man backline, Costa Rica have been anything but boring, with silky counter-attacks feeding speedy lone striker Joel Campbell and attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz.

Peppered with questions about their success, Pinto and his players said it was all about unglamorous things like preparation, learning, assimilation of tactics and hard work.

"Costa Rica do not have secrets. A lot of people were not expecting anything from Costa Rica but ultimately we have deserved it and shown we have top notch players," he said.

"We've won a lot but now we want more... The next games will be more complicated. The enemies know us." (Editing by Karolos Grohmann and Ken Ferris)

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