Sun. 19 March 1989
Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores,
Ciudad de Guatemala
Ref.: Antonio Evangelista (CAN)
L1: David Brummitt (CAN)
L2: Derek Douglas (CAN)
The CONCACAF World Cup qualification group stage was about to get under way with this fixture. Simultaneously, the qualification group stage doubled up by also serving as the 1989 CONCACAF championships. This meant that there was plenty at stake, and two from the five nations strong heat would ultimately be granted access to Italia ’90.
Guatemala had impressively made it through the two qualification rounds, first by overcoming Cuba, and then, undoubtedly a greater feat, toppling Canada. They’d won the home leg by a goal to nil, and had been 2-0 up in the return leg away from home at one stage, before succumbing to a 3-2 loss on the night. Still, this had seen them through on the away goals rule. Canada had been among the five seeded CONCACAF nations, so it had been a memorable victory for the Guatemala team, four years after bowing out to the same opposition in the first round of the World Cup qualification.
The Costa Ricans had tackled Panama in the first round, winning 3-1 on aggregate, and then they’d originally been paired with Mexico in the second round, before being awarded the tie by FIFA following the Mexicans’ ban.
With each team playing one another according to round-robin principles, they were all looking at eight tough fixtures to decide qualification.
The Guatemalan hosts had a number of players remaining from the World Cup qualification four years earlier: Seven of those who would feature during this afternoon’s contest had also played a part during the event ahead of Mexico ’86.
They had featured in the 1988 Olympic Games football tournament, and at least eight from today’s matchday squad (we have no record of their three unused substitutes) had participated in Seoul.
48 year old former international Jorge Roldán was in charge of the team. He had succeeded Uruguayan Julio César Cortés the previous year, after Yugoslav Dragoslav Šekularac had overseen their previous attempt at qualifying for the global stage. Roldán had twice won the domestic league across three spells in charge of Aurora from Guatemala City.
Since they had not needed to tackle Mexico in the second round of qualification for the final group stage, Costa Rica had not played a telling game since they made it past Panama seven and a half months earlier. Their three friendlies results the previous months had revealed some cracks which needed addressing ahead of this tricky trip north to Guatemala City.
Uruguayan Gustavo de Simone had experienced some varying results so far in his tenure, and if they were to be a force to be reckoned with in this group stage, they would need to sure up defensively having shipped nine goals in those three friendlies. 40 year old de Simone had, prior to being picked for the national team job, briefly been in charge of two of Costa Rica’s major domestic league clubs.
Their full matchday squad is also not available to us.
Since finishing bottom of the three teams that had reached the qualification’s final group stage ahead of Mexico ’86, Costa Rica had gone a long way in revamping their squad, with just a low number of players retained.
43 year old Italian born Canadian citizen Antonio Evangelista had been appointed referee for the fixture. A leading referee in his country of residence, Evangelista had been selected for the 1984 Olympic Games, where he’d refereed the group stage game between West Germany and Morocco (2-0). He’d also been linesman in the France v Yugoslavia (4-2 a.e.t.) semi-final.
Evangelista had overseen one game during the 1986 World Cup qualification, namely the CONCACAF second round tie between Honduras and El Salvador (0-0), and also one previous fixture in the current qualification: The second round 1-1 draw between Honduras and Trinidad&Tobago.
|22 Ricardo Jérez||32|
|2 Juan Manuel Dávila||25|
|3 Allan Wellmann||34|
|4 Alejandro Ortíz||sub 69′||30|
|5 Víctor Monzón (c)||31|
|6 Marvin Ceballos Arana||sub 61′|
|7 Carlos Castañeda||26|
|8 Raúl Chacón||24|
|9 Edwin Westphal||23|
|10 Juan Manuel Funes||22|
|17 Julio Rodas||22|
|12 Félix McDonald||on 61′||34|
|14 Sergio Rivera||on 69′||33|
Costa Rica (4-4-2)
|1 Luis Gabelo Conejo||29|
|2 Vladimir Quesada||22|
|3 Róger Flores (c)||31|
|4 Mauricio Montero||25|
|5 Enrique Díaz||30|
|6 Germán Chavarría||31|
|7 Claudio Jara||29|
|8 Álvaro Solano||sub 72′||27|
|9 Evaristo Coronado||first half||28|
|10 Alexandre Guimarães||first half, sub h-t||29|
|11 Hernán Medford||20|
|14 Juan Cayasso||on h-t||27|
|15 Javier Vicente Wanchope||on 72′||20|
In front of what looks to be pretty much a capacity crowd at the Guatemalan national stadium, the home side are the ones to get the game under way. Some of their supporters are face-painted with the country’s colours, blue and white, and the level of noise which they all generate seems quite aloft. They set the tie rolling through their pair of forwards Edwin Westphal and Raúl Chacón.
We’re left with a cut version of this fixture, and the first half clocks in at 15 minutes and 20 seconds. There is not a whole lot of enterprising play being presented, though having weathered some early moments of Costa Rican pressure, the hosts raise their level and begin to apply some pressure of their own after a few minutes of play. There is, however, no on-screen clock to revel in, so the time-lapse is uncertain.
It appears quite clear that both teams have lined up in 4-4-2 formations. They are both relatively square at the back, with no great level of depth being applied by any central defender. However, for the hosts, the seasoned Allan Wellmann seems to have the greater desire for battle, although he’s a surprisingly small-in-stature centre-back. It is helpful that neither of the two Costa Rican forwards are particularly sizey, although they do hold a height advantage to the 34 year old Wellmann.
Four of the five members of Guatemala’s ‘keeper and defensive line are above 30. Only right-back Juan Dávila is in his 20s. He’s the victim of a severe challenge made by visiting forward Evaristo Coronado at some point during the first half, a tackle which earns the Costa Rican a yellow card. It is the second of two bookings we see photographic evidence of in the first half, after the visitors’ Brazilian born midfield man Alexandre Guimarães had earned his for a foul on Marvin Ceballos.
Alongside Wellmann at the heart of the home side’s defence is captain Víctor Monzón. They’re two experienced campaigners, and up against a relatively lacklustre pair leading the Costa Rican forward line, the two centre-backs tidy up well. Goalkeeper Ricardo Jérez is not duly worried during the first half sequences, as the nearest the visitors had got was an injury time effort from over inside the area by Hérnan Medford’s left foot. Jérez had come off his line and collected without much ado a couple of set-pieces into the box from the visiting side.
Guatemala’s full-backs are Dávila to the right and the clearly more attacking, at least in the initial phase of the game, Alejandro Ortíz. The latter enjoys crossing the halfway line in order to lend the wide midfielder a hand (or a foot, rather), providing an outlet through his left-foot which he uses to swing balls into the area with from advanced positions. The hosts do seem to make use of their left hand side, as tricky 22 year old winger Julio Rodas plays ahead of Ortíz down this flank. Rodas hugs the line, likes to challenge by taking his full-back on, and his ambition is typically to make it to the byline. He’s rather gangly, and appears a bit fleet-footed.
In the centre of Guatemala’s midfield sit two quite small individuals in Ceballos and Carlos Castañeda. They both leave an energetic impression, and the former becomes the first home player to have a go, when he accepts a headed clearance 28 yards out. Having chested the ball down, he lets fly a right-footed half volley, which goalkeeper Conejo must pick from under the crossbar. He does so with very few struggles indeed, thanks to his fine reach.
With Rodas quite wide along the left, the hosts have Juan Manuel Funes to the right in their midfield. The 22 year old, who had already been a feature at national team level for several years having made his debut at the tender age of 18, seemed to enjoy coming inside and participate in open play. Funes looked quite composed, but was far from a traditional wide midfield man. Since the Guatemalan team had a tendency to come forward down the left hand side, Funes wasn’t involved a whole lot. Whether this saw him search towards more central areas or whether it was something pre-meditated is difficult to say for sure.
Up front, the blue and white clad home side had a pair of tall men in Chacón and Westphal. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, considering the two strikers’ size, they didn’t look to play it directly towards them particularly often, but both Chacón and perhaps to a greater extent Westphal were targets from left hand side crosses. When the first half breakthrough finally arrived a few minutes before the half-time pause, it was Rodas who played Westphal in after he’d made it to the byline, and following a clumsy challenge from behind by Mauricio Montero on the big striker, the decision to award a penalty was a correct one by the Canadian official. After two minutes of debating, Chacón eventually stepped up and dispatched it with aplomb into the bottom right corner, with Conejo throwing himself in the opposite direction.
The Costa Rican select
Starting their final stage campaign with a tricky away fixture, Costa Rica are also set up in a 4-4-2 formation. Their struggles mainly seem to stem from a lack of creativity in midfield, in addition to their front two failing to be sufficiently involved. They look sluggish, and despite a decent first couple of minutes, didn’t seem to get going.
Between the sticks was the tall Luis Gabelo Conejo, a secure 29 year old with a sound reach. He would prove handy in keeping out that 28 yard effort from Ceballos, although he wasn’t severely tested at all until the penalty. Clearly opting for a particular side, he chose wrong, and was left with no chance to get to Chacón’s kick.
The four men ahead of Conejo were, right to left: Vladimir Quesada, Mauricio Montero, captain Roger Flores, and left-back Enrique Díaz. Quesada would have plenty of work as the home side time and again came attacking down his side. This saw him mainly focused on work inside his own half, and the 15 minutes or so of first half footage didn’t show Quesada cross the halfway line once. Díaz down the other flank, quite a tall player, would come forward, although Costa Rica were rarely offering a lot of people in the forward direction, so the left-back’s contribution remained futile.
At the heart of their defence, Montero did look to shadow Westphal, and it was his unfortunate involvement which led to the penalty situation from which the hosts would take the lead. We were not really given sufficient evidence regarding aerial adventures, so whether Montero and Flores kept the pair of Guatemalan forward in check when the ball came airborn is hard to prove. Fact is that both Montero and Flores remained inside their own half, with no footage showing any venturing in the forward direction.
In midfield, their pair in the centre were the compact Germán Chavarría, whose birthday it was: The moustached player turned 31. He was operating alongside Alexandre Guimarães, a player of fine size. They both looked more equipped in battling skills rather than flair, and so they probably were part of the visitors’ problem in failing to create openings for the pair of strikers to take advantage of. Quite an odd fact about a couple of the visiting players is that there was a mis-match between shirts and shorts numbers: Guimarães, whilst wearing the number 10 shirt, had ’15’ on his pair of shorts. Centre-back Montero, at #4, was with the number 10 shorts.
Working to the right in the Costa Rican midfield was another quite dense performer in Claudio Jara. The 29 year old did initially keep width along his flank, but they were rarely prone to using him. He was their designated corner-taker from the right wing, although boasting a right foot only for such occasions, his attempts were swung outwards rather than into the six yard area. They posed very limited threat even from any set-piece.
Down the left hand side was Hernán Medford, the youngest member of the team, aged 20. He did seem quite lively, and wasn’t entirely glued to the left. He would even come across and hit free-kicks into the area from the right hand channel, and in open play he looked the player more likely to cause worry to the home side’s defence. He had speed and movement, but still seemed raw, just like you’d expect from someone his age. Medford even dealt with left wing corners from his right foot.
Costa Rica’s front duo consisted of Álvaro Solano and Evaristo Coronado, neither of who made much impact during the opening half sequences which are available to us. They both appeared quite stationary, rarely challenging or trying to draw their opponents away from central areas. There was not much resembling a goal threat from the away side, although they had come close with that late effort just over the crossbar from Medford, played in by Guimarães.
Although neither side had shown much in terms of enterprise, it was the Guatemalans who could enter the dressing rooms a goal to the good thanks to that well-placed penalty from Chacón. Could they maintain that lead through to full time, and perhaps even add to their tally after the break?
While there’s a record of six yellow cards in total for this game, two of those are visibly displayed during the first half footage which we possess, and both to visitors: Coronado’s is for a poorly timed challenge on Dávila, while Guimarães’ is for releasing the ball too late in the referee’s opinion when there’s a free-kick for the hosts.
It hardly comes as a surprise that the visitors, who had been languid during that first half footage, had made a half-time substitution. They had left booked central midfielder Guimarães behind in the dressing-room, bringing into play Juan Cayasso in his place. It was the visitors who would kick the game back into action through their two forwards Solano and Coronado.
Whether it was the substitute or manager de Simone’s half-time chat which had pepped the visiting boys up remains unknown, but fact is that they did look an improved outfit after the break. Well, as far as you can possibly judge from an 11 minute short summary. They had hardly produced anything alarming from the home side’s perspective during the opening half, so anything but an improvement was really not going to be tolerated.
There appears to be no sign of any initial changes in formation from either party right in the wake of the kick-off, with Cayasso seemingly slotting into that central midfield role previously held by Guimarães. However, there does seem to be a spring in the second half substitute’s step. Costa Rica immediately launch it long towards the Guatemalan penalty area, and they intend to stay there in the vicinity of Jérez’ goal as much as they can.
A poorly executed challenge from behind by Solano really should’ve seen the visiting striker pick up a caution. Right-back Dávila had attempted to carry the ball forward, though he’d been quite cynically halted in his track by the bearded number 8 in the visiting team. Guatemala captain Monzón can be seen remonstrating with the referee, surely feeling that he had a point regarding a yellow card. Dávila got back up soon enough and was fit to resume.
Greater defensive emphasis for Guatemala
While the hosts’ two wide players Funes and Rodas had been brought into play during the first half sequences which we have available to us, they seemed to have been pushed back slightly in this second half, something which left their pair of forwards slightly isolated up front. They could very well be content with the current scoreline, believing that they had sufficient defensive ability to shut the Costa Ricans out, or keeping faith that Chacón and Westphal could conjure something out of balls reaching them from afar.
Visitors’ attempts goalwards
Having only had a late Medford attempt to show for their first half endeavours, the visitors were the first to have a go after the break, with Medford doing some fine work along the left hand channel in shielding the ball from Dávila and Funes. He proceeded to play a lifted pass into the path of Jara, who had snuck into the centre from his right-sided position, and who laid it off with his head for Cayasso to have a pop from just outside the area. The midfielder struck it ferociously with his right boot, only to see it clear Jérez’ bar by half a yard. It was a stinging effort which would definitely have troubled the custodian had it been aimed lower.
Next saw the visitors awarded a free-kick 25 yards out in a central position after Monzón had been adjudged to have raised his foot on Chavarría. The little holding midfielder had rarely ventured forward, but had taken up an advanced position prior to being exposed to the Guatemalan skipper’s rough challenge. The defensive wall fends off left-back Díaz’ effort after he’d had the ball poked to him by Chavarría from the free-kick, but the Costa Ricans recycle it, and finally win a right wing corner when Dávila attempts a wild clearance in the centre of his own penalty area. The set-piece, again an outswinger from Jara, comes to nothing.
Further opportunities came the visitors way towards the end of our footage, when a long ball was played up from Montero at the back. Guatemala left-back Ortíz had tucked into the centre, but failed to win in the air against Coronado, who looked to have a decent jump on him, and as the ball next came off the head of substitute Wanchope ¹, who had come on for fellow striker Solano, the ball cannoned back to him off centre-back Wellmann, and Wanchope was allowed a strike on target from 14 yards out. On his left foot, he failed to direct it either way to Jérez’ side. The ‘keeper, though, couldn’t hold on to it initially, but claimed it at the second attempt as Coronado and Medford were both closing in. Welmann excused himself to his goalkeeper.
Then there’s a low shot by Jara from just inside the area, after he’d played a one-two with right-back Quesada, who had come forward in support. There was never any danger of it finding the back of the net, as it lacked necessary power, and Jérez held comfortably this time.
Guatemala also let their presence be felt inside the Costa Rican box
It is not as if the Costa Ricans didn’t carve out opportunities to get that leveller, and had either Cayasso’s effort been on target, they could well have had their equalizer. However, the home side also paid the opposition’s penalty area a few visits. A cross was swung into the centre from Funes along the right hand side, and though Westphal, who had been the target, didn’t get to it, it had caused some stir in the visitors’ defence, where goalkeeper Conejo made sure to berate his captain. It was Flores who was supposed to keep tabs on the tall Guatemala striker, but he had failed to do so.
Rodas had had a wild attempt from out in the left hand channel, shooting well wide from more than 25 yards out, while a tackle from Jara on Ortíz had seen the ball fall kindly for goalscorer Chacón, who was allowed to run into the area and strike it low on target with his left foot, only for Conejo to collect it safely. Good effort, sound catch. There was even another attempt by Chacón to wriggle his way towards goal from the left, although it fizzled out as he was tackled before he could get a shot away.
There’s no footage of either Guatemalan substitution as they happen, so we can’t confirm precisely when they occured. However, it is not far-fetched to assume that perhaps Ortíz had to come off following that strong Jara challenge which had brought about Chacón’s pop at goal; he had stayed down injured in the aftermath. In the concluding footage, we see Sergio Rivera in Ortíz’ left-back position. We also know that Félix McDonald has arrived for Ceballos, and he’s spotted in the heart of their midfield, appearing to have been another straight swap.
The Canadian referee brought the game to a halt after about a minute with time added on. There’s no further incidents as the hosts make sure to maintain possession and see the game out. They are more than pleased with the two points, while it had been a disappointing opening to the group stage for Costa Rica. Still, with seven more games to play in the series, they’re far from down and out.
¹ Vicente Wanchope was brought on wearing the number 15 shirt. However, we’ve established how midfielder Guimarães, who had been taken off at half-time, had been wearing ’15’ on his pair of shorts, so what number were Wanchope’s shorts marked with? We’ve no visual confirmation.