WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO.- It may all come down to this in Group D of League A in the Concacaf Nations League, with Curacao hosting Costa Rica in the penultimate match of group play on Thursday at Ergilio Hato Stadium in Willemstad.
A victory for Curacao would put them into the CNL Finals in June, while any other result puts Costa Rica in the driver’s seat ahead of a last-day meeting with Haiti.
Just a month ago, Curacao and Costa Rica played to a scoreless draw with both Curacao goalkeeper Eloy Room and his Costa Rican counterpart Keylor Navas perhaps unsurprisingly keeping their nets clean.
Room made a pair of saves in that match, while Navas was called into action three times. However, with Navas suffering a thigh injury with Paris Saint-Germain, there won’t be a repeat of the head-to-head battle.
That may have Curacao’s attackers, like Elson Hooi, whose two goals in the CNL leads the team, and Bacuna brothers Juninho and Leandro looking forward to the contest, but Costa Rica still can call on an experienced goalkeeper like Esteban Alvarado and a well-seasoned defense full of World Cup veterans.
Costa Rica also had the slight edge in possession in the first encounter, holding the ball 56 percent of the time, but Curacao manager Remko Bicentini always wants his players to keep the ball at their feet. It should lead to a thrilling game with each side pursuing the result.