Costa Rica's interim football coach Ronald Gonzalez said Thursday he expects a tough match with South Korea even though the opponents are playing their first match under a new head coach.
Costa Rica will face South Korea at Goyang Stadium in Goyang, north of Seoul, on Friday. For South Korea, it will be their first match with new head coach Paulo Bento.
Gonzalez said he analyzed Bento's football in the past and expects South Korea to play a 4-3-3 formation for an aggressive and quick style of play.
Costa Rica`s interim football coach Ronald Gonzalez speaks during a press conference at Goyang Stadium in Goyang, north of Seoul, on Sept. 6, 2018, one day ahead of his team`s friendly football match against South Korea. (Yonhap)
"I don't know who is going to play tomorrow, but South Korea are not easy opponents," he said. "Even if their coach has changed, the players and their talents have not changed. Since they'll also receive big support from home fans, it's going to be an interesting match."
Gonzalez's 23-man squad doesn't have stars like Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas and Santos forward Bryan Luiz, but they still have nine players who represented Costa Rica at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
"We're currently in the process of making plans for the 2022 FIFA World Cup," he said. "Our squad right now is mixed with veterans and young talent."
One of the Costa Rican players selected for the match is Elias Aguilar, who is with South Korean club Incheon United. Gonzalez said he has big expectations for the 26-year-old midfielder.
"Aguilar was a good prospect when he was in Costa Rica," he said. "We're tired from long travel, but I believe he is fresh because he plays in South Korea."
Gonzalez said he was impressed by South Korea at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, especially the match against Germany, where the Taeguk Warriors collected a 2-0 win.
"They were quick and aggressive in pressing," he said. "I know many players who competed at the World Cup will play tomorrow, so we'll try to come up with plans to stop them."
Gonzalez said Son Heung-min will be the biggest threat for them.
"Son knows how to penetrate. He's got pace and shooting skills," he said. "His attacking talent is great and will be a threat."
Costa Rican defender Oscar Duarte, who will serve as captain for Friday's match, said he is also aware of Son, but they will also watch out for other players. The 29-year-old defender, who is with Espanyol, was a goal scorer in Costa Rica's 3-1 win over South Korea in their last friendly match in Seoul in 2014.
"I had a strong impression of South Korean football four years ago," he said. "Now, most of the South Korean players have been together for a long time, and that's their strength. We know there are lots of talented players, but we'll do our best to play a good game." (Yonhap)