One month before his team takes the field against Germany in the World Cup's opening match, Costa Rica coach Alexandre Guimaraes spoke to DW-WORLD.DE about the final phase of his team's preparations for the championship.
Alexandre Guimaraes has Costa Rica's complete support
Often regarded as the best coach to take a place on the Costa Rica bench, Guimaraes has the debatable honor of facing Germany in the first game of the 2006 World Cup on June 9 before facing Ecuador and Poland. Brazilian-born, but now a Costa Rican citizen, Guimaraes is leading the team to its second consecutive World Cup finals.
DW-WORLD.DE: How have Costa Rica's preparations for the World Cup been going so far?
Alexandre Guimaraes: We started our last phase of preparation on May 9, one month before the opening game against Germany. Until we fly to Germany on May 17 there will be a lot of very stringent tactical technical and psychological preparation. We'll have two to three training sessions a day.
Some Costa Rican fans will make the trip to Germany
How important is this time?
It is essential. The time for words is already over. Now there is only time to work, to show what we can do and to achieve what we want. These days are important for the team to meld together into a group so we can reach top form. We have to stick close to each other until we get to Germany. Once we get there a series of exhibition matches will begin, and we will use those to push our plans forward.
What do you mean when you talk about psychological preparation?
It is a very normal part of our plans, not, as many people falsely believe, to convince the players not to be afraid of the opponents. After taking part in two World Cups, Costa Rica does not have these fears, we put ourselves on the same level as our opponents. By psychological preparations I mean increasing our motivation and self-confidence.
Paulo Wanchope is one of Costa Rica's strikers
That seems to fit the team slogan: "We're writing history."
I'm not familiar with a slogan…
Team captain, Luis Marin, filled me in.
I think it's fitting. Marin and the other guys came up with something good. "We're writing history" summarizes both our spirit and our desire to take advantage of our chances and show our progress at the Germany World Cup.
What is the mood like in Costa Rica and the national team in terms of the World Cup?
The country has enormous expectations and is 100 percent behind the team. In the team, I can feel a strengthened cohesion and, at the same time, a certain impatience for June 9 to come quickly. The players want to get on the World Cup field and get started.
Costa Rica will be staying in Walldorf during the 2006 World Cup
What is the key to Costa Rica's success at the World Cup?
Our game against Ecuador. Not because it's Ecuador, but because it's our second game. Experience has shown that in a World Cup it's the second game that's always the crucial one. Naturally, the result against Germany also plays a role, but independent of that, the game against Ecuador has a significant meaning.
Have you been observing your opponents?
Of course, and very closely, just like the others are putting Costa Rica under the microscope. We've come to know each other very well, but that won't change the fact that whoever gets the most points will make the trip into the next round. That's our goal.
The team you're taking to Germany is a mix of young and experienced players.
Yes, I'm absolutely convinced that we can achieve great things with it. This mix is no accident. Costa Rica is thinking about the present, Germany in 2006, as well as the future, South Africa in 2010. We want to keep our form so we remain a participant in future World Cups. That's one reason why we need to make sure there are young players in the team. This World Cup is the beginning of the next one.
Daniel Martínez interviewed Alexandre Guimaraes (sms)