After tranquility, Ecuador eyes bliss against Costa Rica

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Ecuador is free of injury for the key encounterPaulo Wanchope will again lead the offensive for Costa RicaThe Costa Rican coach wants his team to attack more

HAMBURG: For Ecuador, it's a chance to virtually ensure itself of a place in the second round in only its second trip to the World Cup. For Costa Rica, Thursday's clash is the last opportunity to remain alive.

Encouraged by a 2-0 win over Poland in its opener, Ecuador is injury free as it prepares for the match against the Ticos at the home of six-time German league champion Hamburg SV.

Costa Rica not only was beaten 4-2 by host Germany in the tournament-opening match on Friday, it also lost defender Gilberto Martinez due to a leg injury.

A victory for Ecuador would leave the South Americans on the verge of reaching the last 16 and Costa Rica merely waiting to play out the tournament before going home.

Cautious optimism

Still, the warning at the Ecuadorean camp is against overconfidence. "What we did against Poland gave us more security, but we cannot think that we already have overcome the second obstacle," said coach Luis Fernando Suarez.

"The second game will be much more difficult than the first. Costa Rica has a lot of resources, and it wouldn't be a good idea for us to consider that we have already won a match we haven't even played," he added.

The players agreed. "We defeated Poland and that gave us tranquillity, but we can't feel assured because our two rivals ahead are very difficult," said midfielder Edison Mendez.

"Let's not allow our confidence to go beyond a normal limit," added defender Ivan Hurtado.

More freedom

Costa Rica coach Alexander Guimaraes is mulling some changes. Guimaraes said he needs more attack and he may give defenders more freedom to move forward.

"Ecuador is a very well organised team, which has been playing the same style for 12 years now and the players like it," he said, noting that it was not an aggressive side. "Ecuador is not a team that would put pressure on you, so we have to block them and attack them."

The Brazilian-born coach said he's planning some line-up changes, but nothing major.

"We are not going to be as crazy as to change one half of our team. Our team has been improving. And there will also be some tactical changes," he said. He did not elaborate, but added: "We've been practising some of the changes."

Two-goal star Paulo Wanchope will again lead the offensive and the Ecuadoreans are ready for him. "He will be fed by Walter Centeno and Ronald Gomez. We will try to anticipate their moves and thus Wanchope may be neutralised," said assistant coach Armando Osma.

Likely line-ups: Ecuador: 12-Cristian Mora, 4-Ulises de la Cruz, 3-Ivan Hurtado, 17-Giovanny Espinoza, 18-Neicer Reasco, 8-Edison Mendez, 20-Edwin Tenorio, 14-Segundo Castillo, 16-Luis Antonio Valencia, 11-Agustin Delgado, 21-Carlos Tenorio. Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez.

Costa Rica: 18-Jose Francisco Porras, 3-Luis Marin, 4-Michael Umana, 2-Jervis Drummond, 12-Leonardo Gonzales, 8-Mauricio Solis, 10-Walter Centeno, 20-Douglas Sequeira, 6-Danny Fonseca, 11-Ronald Gomez, 9-Paulo Wanchope. Coach: Alexandre Guimaraes.

Referee: Coffi Codjia (Benin). Agencies

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