Confetti popped above the crowd as if sprung from a hundred tiny volcanoes. A sea of onlookers jumped and hugged, creating a red and blue wave in front of the giant screen. Celebratory horns blew as many emptied into the streets to march towards Parque Central or San Pedro.
This scene at Plaza de la Democracia after a 1-0 Costa Rica victory over Italy in the World Cup mirrored celebrations across the country Friday. From Limón to the corners of Guanacaste, Costa Ricans everywhere were chanting Oé, oé, oé, oé, Ticos, Ticos.”
Even President Luis Guillermo Solís and his cabinet members had a game party at Casa Presidencial before Solís joined the masses in swallowing the streets. The president walked from Zapote to the Circunvalación bridge over the Fuente de la Hispanidad in San Pedro where a mass of people had conglomerated. Before the game, Solís had announced that all public workers were allowed to take a recess. Now, they’ll be expecting a national holiday for next weekend’s octavos.
Costa Rica’s historic win against another former World Cup champ vaults them beyond group play for only the second time in its history. Last time the Ticos advanced to the round of 16 they topped Sweden 2-1 on June 20, 1990. Twenty-four years to the day.
In the group of death where Costa Rica was considered the weak link, the Ticos have not only survived, they’ve thrived. With an insurmountable advantage of six points, the team faces an already eliminated English squad in Tuesday’s formality.
Though they are locked in for the next round, there is a slight possibility that the Italy-Uruguay winner could take away first place in Group D from Costa Rica. For example, if the Ticos lose to England and Italy were to beat Uruguay by at least two goals (to even up or exceed goal differential), then the Italians would win the group. Where Costa Rica finishes will decide their next opponent.
If they remain in first, they’ll take on the second-best finisher in Group C. Right now Ivory Coast is likely to keep that spot. But if they lose to Greece and Japan beats Colombia, then Japan would take second place in the group.
And, to enter more hypotheticals into the World Cup machine, if either one of Uruguay or Italy bumps Costa Rica into second, then the Ticos will meet Group C’s first place team, which will almost certainly be Colombia, barring a major turnaround in goal differentials.
With a first place finish, the Ticos will be playing Sunday at 2 p.m. A second place finish in the group would put La Sele into Saturday’s slot, also a 2 p.m. kickoff.