U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. Men's National Team Leave for Korea Today for Dec. 9 Match
U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bruce Arena trimmed his 27-player training camp roster to 19 players, including seven players from the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer and four more from the defending MLS Cup champion San Jose Earthquakes. The team concluded a week-long training camp at the ARCO Olympic Training Center yesterday with an intra-squad scrimmage before seeing the roster narrowed down.
Dec. 3, 2001
19-PLAYER U.S. ROSTER MADE UP COMPLETELY OF MLS STARS: U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bruce Arena trimmed his 27-player training camp roster to 19 players, including seven players from the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer and four more from the defending champion San Jose Earthquakes. The team concluded a week-long training camp at the ARCO Olympic Training Center yesterday with an intra- squad scrimmage before seeing the roster narrowed down. In the 60-minute scrimmage, forward Ante Razov put his team up 2-0 at halftime with a goal in the 12th minute and a penalty kick in the closing seconds of first half injury time. Landon Donovan and first-time roster selection Jeff Cunningham took turns setting each other up to bring the orange team back even at 2-2 with goals on their team's only two shots of the half. Injured midfielders Clint Mathis (right knee) and Peter Vagenas (right quadricep) were the only two players of the 27-player camp not to compete in the scrimmage. The team will depart from Los Angeles tonight and travel to Seoul, Korea. They will then move to Seogwipo to train this week for the Dec. 9 friendly versus the Korea Republic that will be broadcast via tape delay on ESPN on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. ET.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Tim Howard, Zach Thornton;
DEFENDERS (6): Jeff Agoos, Carlos Bocanegra, Danny Califf, Carlos Llamosa, Pablo Mastroeni, Richard Mulrooney;
MIDFIELDERS (7): Chris Armas, Jeff Cunningham, Landon Donovan, Diego Gutierrez, Cobi Jones, Manny Lagos, Jesse Marsch;
FORWARDS (4): Brian McBride, Ante Razov, Brian West, Josh Wolff.
U.S. DRAWS KOREA REPUBLIC, PORTUGAL, POLAND: The U.S. Men's National Team has been drawn into Group D with Portugal, Poland and World Cup co-hosts Korea Republic in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. The U.S. will open Group D play against the highly-regarded Portuguese on June 5 in Suwon, and will follow that game with matches against the host Koreans on June 10 in Daegu and against Poland on June 14 in Daejeon. The draw was held Saturday (Dec. 1) at 5 a.m. ET (7 p.m. local) at the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center in the Korean city of Busan. "South Korea is a much improved team, and certainly playing at home will be a big advantage and will make them that much more of a difficult opponent," said Arena from Busan. "Portugal is one of the best teams in the world, and they have one of the best players in the world in Luis Figo (of Real Madrid in Spain). They are dangerous all over the field. And Poland showed in their qualifying run how dangerous they can be." Featuring high-scoring, Nigerian-born forward Emmanuel Olisadebe, who led the team in scoring in qualifying with eight goals, and goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek of Liverpool, Poland was the first team to qualify for the 2002 World Cup out of Europe (other than defending champion France). In their history, the U.S. has played Poland more times than any other European opponent (11 times dating all the way back to 1924), but the two teams have not met in 11 years. By being drawn into Group D, the U.S. is assured that it will play all of its matches in Korea (not including the World Cup championship game on June 30 in Yokohama). Should they advance to the second round, the U.S. would meet a team from Group G (Italy, Ecuador, Croatia and Mexico) in Korea in either Jeonju (June 17) or Daejeon (June 18).
U.S. TO "GET TO KNOW" KOREA: In a scheduling quirk that became even more relevant after Saturday's draw, the U.S. Men's National Team is scheduled to play the Korea Republic in their next two matches, a friendly in Seogwipo in the Jeju Province on Dec. 9 (being telecast on delay on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 10), and on Jan. 19 in the team's opening match of the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (available on pay-per-view at 3 p.m. PT). The United States has never defeated the Korea Republic, holding an 0-2-1 lifetime record in three previous meetings. The teams last met in a prelude to World Cup USA '94, drawing 1-1 in Fullerton, Calif., in March of that year. The Korea Republic will be making its fifth consecutive appearance in the Finals, having qualified for every tournament since 1986, but have an 0-10-4 lifetime record in the competition. When asked if it was an advantage or disadvantage to be playing the team twice in advance of the tournament head coach Bruce Arena said, "I don't know. We won't know until June 10. We will know them much better than we do now, that is for sure."
2002 WORLD CUP DRAW REVIEW
SUWON, DAEGU & DAEJEON TO HOST U.S. MNT AT WORLD CUP: Below is a quick primer on the three Korean stadiums which will host the U.S. Men's National Team's matches at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
– U.S. 2002 World Cup Schedule –
June 5 vs. Portugal in Suwon (Suwon World Cup Stadium) at 6 p.m. local/5 a.m. ET
June 10 vs. Korea Republic in Daegu (Daegu World Cup Stadium) at 3:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET
June 14 vs. Poland in Daejeon (Daejeon World Cup Stadium) at 8:30 p.m. local/7:30 a.m. ET
Location: 29 miles south of Seoul
Stadium: Suwon World Cup Stadium (44,047 capacity); construction completed May 2001
Steeped in history, Suwon is the home to many of Korea's high tech companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK, as well as a number of research institutes and universities. The city is known as one of the most passionate soccer cities in the country and is home to the Samsung Blue Wings, who won back-to-back Korean league titles in 1998 and 1999. The recently completed Suwon World Cup Stadium features a design harmonizing the history of the ancient city with high-tech architecture. As part of their city infrastructure being modified for the 2002 World Cup, the city has seen construction of the Suwon Convention City 21, along with the Image Theme Park and a World Miniature Castle Park where visitors can see a unique collection of scale models of famous castles from around the world. In addition the Hwaseong Observation Tower will be put in place as a central feature of all these projects to commemorate the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Match-ups at Suwon World Cup Stadium
June 5: USA vs. Portugal (6 p.m. local/5 a.m. ET)
June 11: Senegal vs. Uruguay (3:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET)
June 13: Costa Rica vs. Brazil (3:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET)
June 16: "Round of 16" - B1 vs. E2 (8:30 p.m. local/7:30 a.m. ET)
Location: 181 miles SE of Seoul; 50 miles inland from East Sea
Stadium: Daegu World Cup Stadium (68,014 capacity); construction completed July 2001
The stadium is aesthetically designed to blend its artificial lines with the natural surroundings. Nearly three-fourths of the seats are covered by a Teflon coating roof membrane that lets through natural light, but protects spectators. The design of the roof recalls the beautiful curves of a traditional Korean house with a straw-thatched roof. Construction of the stadium is part of the Grand Daegu Park development project and is expected to become one of the major leisure attractions of the city. To befit Daegu's image as a city aware of the environment, 204,000 trees of 56 different species, including pines and zelkovas, have been planted around the stadium to form a natural park. After the World Cup, the stadium will become a multi-cultural center. Rich in tradition and culture, Daegu has inherited the magnificent cultural relics of the Ancient Shilla and Kaya Dynasties. It is also a major industrial center specializing in textiles, optical frames, parasols, bicycles and woodwork. In particular, its synthetic fiber production accounts for 40 percent of the nation's export volume of synthetic fiber.
Match-ups at Daegu Stadium
June 6: Denmark vs. Senegal (8:30 p.m. local/7:30 a.m. ET)
June 8: South Africa vs. Slovenia (3:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET)
June 10: Korea Republic vs. USA (3:30 p.m. local/2:30 a.m. ET)
June 29: Third-place Match (8 p.m. local/7 a.m. ET)
Location: 94 miles south of Seoul
Stadium: Daejeon World Cup Stadium (41,439 capacity); construction completed Dec. 2001
Situated in central Korea, Daejeon is a transportation hub, sitting at the intersection of the Kyungbu and Honam railways and expressways. It is also a center of science and technology in Korea, and is home to the Daedok Research Complex and the Secretariat of World Technopolis Association (an association of 23 cities of science and technology around the world). In 1993, the Daejeon International Expo drew some 14 million visitors from all over the world. The Deajeon World Cup Stadium is a football-only arena and features a semi-closed roof, the first of its kind to be constructed in Korea. The stadium was designed to reflect the image of a traditional Korean farmhouse. After the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the field will be reserved exclusively for use by the city's professional football team, the Daejeon Citizen.
Match-ups at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
June 12: South Africa vs. Spain (8:30 p.m. local/7:30 a.m. ET)
June 14: Poland vs. USA (8:30 p.m. local/7:30 a.m. ET)
June 18: "Round of 16" - D1 vs. G2 (8:30 p.m. local/7:30 a.m. ET)
DRAW ROUND-UP: The 2002 World Cup will mark the third time that the United States will face a World Cup host nation in group play (in seven all-time World Cups for the U.S.). The previous match-ups were both against Italy (in 1934 and 1990). ... The USA and Portugal will be the last two teams to open the World Cup when they meet on June 5 in Suwon (just hours after Russia and Tunisia kick-off in Japan). ... Group D opponents Poland and Portugal have not appeared in a World Cup since 1986, where, coincidentally, they also landed in the same group in Mexico. In that World Cup, Poland defeated Portugal in their match-up and advanced out of the group, while Portugal finished in fourth place. ... The "Group of Death" features a number of interesting subplots for Argentina, England, Nigeria and Sweden. The Argentina-England match will feature a rematch of a Round of 16 contest from 1998, in which Argentina prevailed on penalties after England played most of the second-half shorthanded due to the ejection of David Beckham. And England head coach Sven Goran Erickson will be pitted against his native Sweden in another match-up ... Senegal will play their first-ever World Cup match against France in the tournament's opening game. Senegal is the lowest-ranked team to qualify for Korea/Japan and are currently 67th in the FIFA rankings ... The only teams who were in the same group in France '98 and are again meeting in group play are France and Denmark, who are in Group A, and Spain and Paraguay in Group B. Going back to 1994, Mexico and Italy (Group G) and Argentina and Nigeria (Group F) faced one another in group play in the USA. From 1990, the only familiar grouping is Costa Rica vs. Brazil (Group C) ... Former U.S. Men's National Team defender and two-time World Cup participant Alexi Lalas will review the entire World Cup Draw in today's issue of USA Today.
COMPLETE 2002 WORLD CUP GROUP LISTINGS
GROUP A: France, Senegal, Uruguay, Denmark
GROUP B: Spain, Slovenia, Paraguay, South Africa
GROUP C: Brazil, Turkey, China, Costa Rica
GROUP D: Korea Republic, Poland, United States, Portugal
GROUP E: Germany, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Cameroon
GROUP F: Argentina, Nigeria, England, Sweden
GROUP G: Italy, Ecuador, Croatia, Mexico
GROUP H: Japan, Belgium, Russia, Tunisia
WORLD CUP CHAMPION WILL NO LONGER RECEIVE AUTOMATIC BERTH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced last week that future champions of the World Cup will no longer be guaranteed a berth in the next tournament. With the announcement, speculation immediately began on FIFA's six confederations' lobbying efforts for what are now two available positions in the field of 32 teams scheduled to compete at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where the hosts will be the only guaranteed participant. In 2002, there were only 29 qualifyiing positions available, but in 2006 there will be 31. The current qualifying breakdown by confederation follows (not including the 2002 hosts and defending champion): Africa (5), Asia (2.5), CONCACAF (3), Europe (13.5), Oceania (0.5), South America (4.5).
U.S. NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE
U.S. WOMEN TO OPEN 2002 SCHEDULE IN SOUTH CAROLINA ON JAN. 12: The U.S. Women's National Team will open what promises to be a busy 2002 schedule on Saturday, January 12, facing regional rival Mexico at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. The match, presented by Nike, will kick off at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Throughout their history, the U.S. women have played matches in 25 states and Washington, D.C., but this marks the first-ever match in South Carolina. The picturesque Blackbaud Stadium, which opened in the spring of 1999, is the home of the Charleston Battery of the A-League and has a capacity 5,113. Tickets are on sale now and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas or by phone at 843-554-6060. The U.S. Women's National Team is coming off one of the lightest years of activity since the late 1980s due to the start-up of the WUSA. The U.S. women played just 10 matches in 2001, but only three of them with a complete roster of veteran players, ending with a convincing 4-1 victory over Germany on Sept. 9 in the USA's first, and only, match of the shortened Nike U.S. Women's Cup. "As a team, we're excited to play in a new city and new venue," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs, who will bring a mix of Women's World Cup and Olympic veterans and rising young stars to South Carolina. "Mexico is a team that has shown only improvement over the past two years." For complete ticket information on this match, click here.
NEW U.S. U-17 SQUAD POSTS THREE WINS AT U.S. SOCCER/NIKE TOURNAMENT: The U.S. Under-17s Men's National Teams went a combined 5-1 at the U.S. Soccer / Nike Club Tournament at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. this past weekend. The event included two U.S. Under-17 Men's National Teams, as head coach John Ellinger split his squad into players eligible for the 2001 Under-17 World Championship and the new group of U-17s who are already preparing for the 2003 FIFA World Championship. Nine of the younger players began the U.S. Soccer residency program in September, and the results of the program were evident in their play. The younger U.S. Under-17s (1986's) outscored opponents 9-2 and were led by Freddie Adu's four goals. The attacking combination of Guillermo Gonzalez, Mike Harrington, Corey Ashe, Eddie Gaven and Adu overwhelmed the older opponents and accounted for eight of the nine goals. The U.S. put together their most complete performance against FC Delco, hammering the defending national champions 4-1 behind superb performances from Adu and Gonzalez, who hit the post twice before finding the net with a blast from outside the box. For the older group of Under-17s, the club tournament represented the last competitive matches the group will play as U.S. Under-17s. Mike Magee scored with two beautiful strikes in the opening win against the Houston Texans. After overwhelming the national champion Chicago Sockers, the U.S. were shocked in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rush. Justin Mapp scored a brilliant individual goal, carrying the ball across the field and then finishing with a delicate chip over a helpless goalkeeper. The younger U.S. Under-17s will regroup in late December to take part in the Disney Showcase in Orlando.
UPDATE ON MNT PLAYERS WITH EUROPEAN CLUBS: While all eyes were on Korea for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Draw, a number of U.S. MNT stand-outs were going the distance in their European club matches over the weekend. No fewer than seven U.S. players went 90 minutes in their club matches this week, including Jovan Kirovski (20 league games played, 4 goals; 2 cup GP) and Gregg Berhalter (7 league GP; 2 cup GP) in a 2-1 loss at Burnly for Crystal Palace ... Brad Friedel (15 league GP, 1.13 GAA); 2 cup GP, 0.00 GAA) lost 1-0 to Middlesborough in continuing his string of playing every minute of the season for Blackburn ... Amid transfer rumors to Sunderland of the English Premiership, Claudio Reyna (10 league GP, 2 goals; 5 cup GP, 1 goal) played 90 minutes for Rangers in a 0-0 draw at Dundee ... In Holland, midfielder Earnie Stewart (15 league GP, 7 goals; 2 cup GP) played all 90 minutes in NAC Breda's 2-2 draw at Willem II (his former club), while John O'Brien (9 league GP, 1 goal; 3 cup GP) missed his first match for Ajax since September ... David Regis (12 league GP, 1 cup GP) played all 90 minutes twice for Metz on the week, following a 0-0 league draw at Rennes on Nov. 28 with a 5-4 French Cup defeat at the hands of Lorient on Sunday ... In Germany, Tony Sanneh (14 league GP, 1 goal; 1 cup GP) went the distance in a disapppointing 3-0 draw for Nurnberg at Schalke 04, while defender Cory Gibbs(10 league GP, 1 goal; 1 cup GP) started and played 55 minutes in a 4-3 loss for his St. Pauli side at Hamburger SV. When Gibbs came out of the match it ended a streak of playing the full 90 minutes in nine consecutive games for St. Pauli ... In the German second division, neither Steve Cherundolo (13 league GP, 1 goal; 1 cup GP) or Conor Casey (3 league GP) played for Hannover in an easy 4-0 German Cup victory over Wolfsburg's amateur side on Nov. 28.
AROUND THE SOCCER NATION
2002 GOLD CUP TICKETS GO ON SALE IN MIAMI, LOS ANGELES: Tickets for the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup went on sale this past weekend in the venues where 12 national teams, including five World Cup qualifiers, will vie for the championship of the Football Confederation (CONCACAF). Tickets are available at a variety of ticket outlets in both venues: the Orange Bowl in Miami, and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Fans can find their nearest outlet by calling: 888-649-7247 in Miami and 213-480-3232 in Los Angeles. For group tickets or suites at the Rose Bowl, call 213-620-8087. Ticket prices range from $25 to $50, with discounts for advance purchase and a variety of group prices.
SEMIS SET FOR 2001 NCAA WOMEN'S COLLEGE CUP: The 2001 NCAA Women's College Cup semifinals will begin this Friday at the Gerald Ford Stadium on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, with perennial-champion North Carolina advancing to the final four along with Portland, Florida and Santa Clara, three programs with rich women's soccer tradition. The top seed and 17-time NCAA Champion Tar Heels will play in the first semifinal match against Portland at 6 p.m. ET. The second game will have second- seeded Florida taking on the sixth-seeded Santa Clara at 8:30 p.m. ET. The championship game is set for Sunday (Dec. 9) at 4 p.m. ET live on ESPN. North Carolina advanced to the 2001 semifinals after posting a 2-1 win over Penn State in the quarterfinals last Thursday, while Portland earned their spot in the final four with a 4-1 victory Texas A&M. Florida needed two overtime periods to top UCLA 2-1 in the quarterfinals on Saturday, while Santa Clara advanced with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Virginia.
2001 NCAA MEN'S COLLEGE CUP REACHES "ELITE EIGHT": With 48 teams beginning the first round of the 2001 NCAA Men's College Cup, only the "Elite Eight" remain as the quarterfinals begin this week. The match-ups will be highlighted by tournament contender North Carolina taking on the surprising team of Fairleigh Dickinson. The New Jersey school is the only team from the "Elite Eight" that did not get a first round bye and in the process eliminated from the 2001 tournament top Northeast regional teams: Boston College, Princeton, Seton Hall. The other quarterfinal games include Stanford taking on St. Louis, Indiana facing Clemson and St. John's squaring off against Southern Methodist. The winners will advance to the final four of the 2001 NCAA Men's College Cup in Columbus, Ohio on December 14 and 16.
USL SELECT TEAM TO TOUR PORTUGAL: The United Soccer Leagues (USL) announced last week the roster for its upcoming Portugal Tour from December 10-20. The 19-players come from the A-League, D3 Pro League, Premier Development League, and Super Y-League. The youngest player slated to participate is 16-year old Super Y-League alum Justin Papadakis, who has been invited to stay in Portugal as the number one goalkeeper for Benfica's U-17 team after a successful trial with the club. Joining head coach Pat Ercoli will be Rochester Rhinos goalkeeper Scott Vallow and forward Steve Butcher. Vallow finished second in goals-against average in 2001 after claiming the Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2000. The 24-year old has guided the Rhinos to two consecutive A-League Championships. Fresh off elimination from the NCAA tournament, Seattle Sounders Select and University of Washington defender Billy Sleeth will also join the tour along with the lone Canadian representative, Adrian Serioux of the Toronto Lynx.
GOALKEEPERS: Scott Vallow (Rochester Raging Rhinos), Justin Papadakis (Atlanta Silverbacks);
DEFENDERS: Chris Gores (Minnesota Thunder), Destin Makumbu, (Milwaukee Rampage), Mark Schulte (Minnesota Thunder), Adrian Serioux (Toronto Lynx), Billy Sleeth (Seattle Sounders Select);
MIDFIELDERS: Steve Armas (Minnesota Thunder), Steve Bernal (Milwaukee Rampage), Sean-Michael Callahan (Atlanta Silverbacks), Ishmael Mintah (Sioux Falls SpitFire), Leonardo Peirano (Indiana Invaders), Bato Radoncic (Milwaukee Rampage), Ze Roberto (Hershey Wildcats);
FORWARDS: Steve Butcher (Milwaukee Rampage), Teofilo Cubillas (Wilmington Hammerheads), Fabio Eidelwein (Sioux Falls SpitFire), Johnny Menyongar (Minnesota Thunder), John Wolyniec (Rochester Raging Rhinos).
WUSA TO HOLD WAIVER DRAFT WEDNESDAY: The Women's United Soccer Association will hold its first post-season waiver draft on Wednesday (Dec. 5). By the close of business Monday, teams will waive a minimum of two players and a maximum of eight players from their active rosters, and will have the option of upgrading their reserve team players to the roster or release them into the waiver draft. The draft will last a maximum of four rounds and the list of draft-eligible players will be available on Monday (Dec. 3) at 5 p.m. ET. For a complete results of this week's waiver draft, log on to www.wusa.com.
SOCKERS CLINCH HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE THROUGHOUT WISL PLAYOFFS: In a battle of the two top teams in the World Indoor Soccer League (WISL), the San Diego Sockers (14-10) defeated the visiting Dallas Sidekicks (14-10) 5-0 in the 2001 regular season finale on Sunday and although both teams finished with identical records, San Diego clinched first place and home-field advantage throughout the WISL playoffs after winning their season series 4-2.
WISL Finals — December 14-16 - Semifinal Winners (St. Louis Steamers vs. San Diego Sockers and Sacramento Knights vs. Dallas Sidekicks)
SPAIN TOPS BRAZIL ON PKS TO WIN 2001 SINGAPORE TIGER 5'S: Futsal history repeated itself as Spain's Futsal National Team once again dethroned Brazil from a major international championship after posting a penalty-kick victory in the final of the 2001 Tiger 5's International Tournament in Singapore on Sunday (Dec. 2). The teams drew 3-3 in regulation. Recognized as one of the top international futsal competitions in the world, the 2001 Tiger 5's saw both Spain and Brazil easily win their respective first round groups with a 2-0 mark. After Spain topped Holland 3-1 and Brazil crushed Italy 6-1 in the semis, both squads were set for a rematch of the 2000 FIFA Futsal World Championship Final in Guatemala that was won by Spain 4-3. Down 3-0, Spain came back and scored three unanswered goals to tie the game at 3-3 and send it to overtime. With no scoring in the "golden goal" overtime periods, penalty kicks would decide the 2001 Tiger 5's Cup Champion. Forward Javi Rodriguez notched the game-winning penalty to dethrone the 1999 Tiger 5's Champion Brazil.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMANCE: Pele came through for Brazil again. The world's greatest soccer champion plucked Brazil's name out of a pot as a celebrity contributor to the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final Draw in Korea. Brazil was then placed in C and went on to draw Turkey, China and Costa Rica in what should be a relatively easy group for the struggling four-time world champions.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: All of a sudden the U.S. MNT's consecutive matches against the Korea Republic have taken on a whole new meaning. Don't miss the U.S. in Korea on Dec. 9, a game which you can follow live on the Philips MatchTracker at www.ussoccer.com at 3 a.m. ET on Dec. 9, or watch delayed on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET on Dec. 10. Following that match, the U.S. will open the 2002 Gold Cup against Korea on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. PT at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. That game is available live on pay-per-view.
SOCCER SHOCKER: The "Group of Death" in 2002 FIFA World Cup is arguably the most difficult group in the history of the World Cup. Not including Nigeria, the African powers frequently referred to as the team that no one wants to play, the remaining three teams (Argentina, England and Sweden) have all previously advance to a World Cup final, they have all advanced to a World Cup semifinal within the last three World Cups, and they feature three World Cup crowns (two for Argentina and one for England).
"It is a tough group of course as Brazil are in it but is not an impossible group. I will especially look forward to playing against Costa Rica but this time I will be trying to
stop them, not help them."
- China head coach Bora Milutinovic, Costa Rica's head coach in the 1990 finals in Italy.