Rene Simoes was recently appointed to turn Costa Rica’s fortunes around in the two remaining World Cup qualifiers.
But it seems the 56-year-old Brazilian is running into trouble already, according to the Los Angeles Times.
L.A. Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, one of the players Simoes took to the 1998 World Cup for Jamaica, is not optimistic about his old coach’s chances.
“It's not a very good time to come in for Rene Simoes; he has two difficult games coming up” [home against Trinidad and Tobago and away against the USA], Ricketts said.
“It's a very tight group, and for him to impose his style on the Costa Rica team will be very difficult.”
The answer, says Ricketts, may be the counter-attacking game favoured by Simoes.
“When he came to Jamaica for the '98 campaign, we were unbeaten at home,” he said.
“[Simoes] plays a very tight defensive game. Everyone is pulled in and you beat them on the break.”
Complicating the new coach’s situation even more is the attitude of Costa Rica's top clubs, some of whom are not pulling their weight.
“Simoes has asked to have two weeks with his players leading up to the final two qualifying games [in October], but two of the country's top club teams, Saprissa and Cartagines, are refusing to release their players for that long.”
Costa Rica is currently behind the USA, Mexico and Honduras in fourth place. Only the top three automatically qualify for South Africa. The fourth place finisher faces a tough two-game playoff against the fifth placed South American team.