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COSTA'S PAULO: WRITE US OFF AT YOUR PERIL.

Byline: JOHN CROSS Football Correspondent

PAULO WANCHOPE last night claimed Costa Rica can pull off another great World Cup upset.

The former Derby, West Ham and Manchester City striker says the whole of Costa Rica will stop when they play England in Belo Horizonte on June 24.

Wanchope, now Costa Rica's assistant boss, has no doubt that his nation can repeat their feat of 1990 when they squeezed through a group which included Brazil, Scotland and Sweden.

Costa Rica, ranked 34th in the world with a population of less than five million, now face an equally thankless task against England, Uruguay and Italy.

Wanchope, 37, said: "The country will stop for every game, even the first one against Uruguay, and everyone will watch those games against England and Italy. Everyone is waiting for that moment.

"Expectation is very high and the fact we're playing against good teams will help everyone be alert. The players are really looking forward to it.

"The world will expect England, Italy or Uruguay to get through from the group.

If Costa Rica go through that will be a big surprise for everyone," said Wanchope (pictured left with Shaun Wright-Phillips during their Man City days).

"Italy and England will be favourites but we want to get into the second stage. We had the example from 1990 in Italy when Costa Rica went through a difficult group against Scotland, Brazil and Sweden and we want to emulate that.

"I can remember watching that tournament on television in Costa Rica. It was everywhere. No-one expected Costa Rica to win those games. There were parties everywhere."

Costa Rica beat Scotland and Sweden but lost narrowly to Brazil in what should serve as a warning to Hodgson, especially as the final group match could hold the key for England.

There is no doubt that Costa Rica's best known players are Bryan Ruiz and Arsenal youngster Joel Campbell - and Wanchope believes the 21-year-old can become a big star after the World Cup.

"Joel needs to improve.

He's a great talent, he is someone who can do something different in the game," said Wanchope.

"We have spoken about his move to Arsenal and that he needs to be very sE strong to play in England.

"We know the talent, but the physical aspect he needs to work on. But he's a very skilful player, so he will blend in easier to Arsenal's style."

COSTA RICA'S RECENT FORM

WC QUALIFIER Oct 2013

Costa Rica 2-1 Mexico

FRIENDLY Nov 2013

Australia 1-0 Costa Rica

FRIENDLY Jan 2014

Chile 4-0 Costa Rica

FRIENDLY Jan 2014

Costa Rica 0-1 South Korea

FRIENDLY Mar 2014:

Costa Rica 2-1 Paraguay

CAPTION(S):

WONDER OF WANCHOPE Paulo Wanchope enjoys his goal at the World Cup back in 2006
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUSW
Date:Jun 2, 2014
Words:459
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