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Costa Rica Soccer Manager Says Friendly Games 'Valid'
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Alexandre Guimaraes, the Brazil-born manager of Costa Rica's national soccer team, told media on Friday that the friendly games played by the national team were "valid" even though Costa Rica had lost.


The matches had allowed the team to define its strategy for the World Cup, which begins on Friday next week with Costa Rica playing the hosts, Germany in Munich.


"They give us a probable line up for the Germany-Costa Rica match and a style we can use to begin that game. And the other players have to fight to be first in line, instead of being substitutes," Guimaraes told Costa Rica's La Nacion daily.


Costa Rica has lost four of the five pre-World Cup friendlies which play in May and June: to a Catalan team 2-0, to Ukraine 4-0, to the Czech Republic 1-0 and to the Kurpfalz German league team 2-3. Costa Rica's only win was against a team of former soccer stars from the German Bundesliga, beating the old men 2-0.


Costa Rica had committed too many large scale errors against the Catalan and Ukraine teams, "which are very costs in a short competition," the manager said.


"We took the decisions that we took because the team needs a secure defense. Now we have precautions in place that we did not take in 2002," he said.


In the 2002 World Cup Costa Rica's playing strategy was that defense did not matter as long as the team kept scoring. This time round Costa Rica is going to reach the second round, the team leader said.


"We want to reach the second round, but we are going to face super-tough rivals; so we have our feet on the ground," he said. "We have given the country World Cup joy twice and we are going to do all we can to extend the pleasure beyond three games," he said.


In its third World Cup outing, after the Italy in 1990 and South Korea-Japan in 2002, Costa Rica is in Group A alongside Germany, Ecuador and Poland.


(Xinhua News Agency June 3, 2006)


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