Costa Rica’s qualification for the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup has left one Whitby restaurant owner surprised - but delighted.
Randall Romero of RomeroJo’s on Golden Lion Bank says he was stunned when his home country defeated Italy on Friday night to not only secure their passage to round two, but eliminate England in the process.
The Ticos have won both group D games, also coming from behind to see off Uruguay, meaning they will now face a team from Group C in the next stage, probably either Colombia or the Ivory Coast.
He said the added bonus for Costa Rica is that they don’t have the same pressure on them as the big boys.
“We’re the underdogs, so nobody is expecting anything from us,” he said.
“I feel because we are the surprise team, other teams will feel the pressure against us.
“We are playing really well but with this World Cup, there have been so many surprise results.”
Before flying home, England round off their group fixtures against Costa Rica on Tuesday (June 24), 5pm kick-off, in Belo Horizonte - scene of one of the most famous World Cup shocks in 1950 when the Three Lions lost to then amateurs the USA.
Such was the disbelief at the scoreline, some English press assumed it was a misprint and changed it to a 10-1 England win.
Randall is predicting a 1-1 draw and he knows England are playing for pride, keen to finish a disappointing campaign on a high after losing 2-1 to a modest Uruguay side, but being unable to contain even a half-fit Luis Suarez, who scored both their goals.
“England dominated and controlled Uruguay very well in their last game but against a type of player like Suarez, you know what he can do and cannot make a mistake,” he said.
“It was a long kick from the keeper flicked on by Edinson Cavani and no-one was looking at Suarez, they were all looking at the ball.
“Instead of going to tackle him, England ran forward and there’s no way you can catch Suarez once he’s free.”
He said Costa Rica ideally need to beat Roy Hodgson’s men to top the group and avoid a likely clash with Colombia, who have impressed so far.
Randall says from what he’s seen, the winners of the World Cup will be one of three teams - Chile, who dumped out holders Spain; Holland; or Germany, despite their struggle against Ghana on Saturday night.
Argentina were tipped by many to conquer all on South American soil but Randall is not convinced by them, despite the scintillating goals of superstar striker Leo Messi.
* More on World Cup in Friday’s Whitby Gazette