x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cubero keen to take his chance at Copa America

The midfielder will make his first senior start for Costa Rica in five months tonight against Bolivia in a match the Central Americans cannot afford to lose.

Ricardo La Volpe, right, the Costa Rica coach, preparing his team to face Bolivia tonight.
Ricardo La Volpe, right, the Costa Rica coach, preparing his team to face Bolivia tonight.

Jose Cubero will make his first senior start for Costa Rica in five months in the Copa America tonight against Bolivia in a match the Central Americans cannot afford to lose.

Los Ticos lost their opening match to Colombia but a win over the Bolivians would take them right back into contention in Group A, with a final group game against Argentina to come.

Cubero lined up in an unfamiliar holding midfield role in a training match on Tuesday and is set to replace David Guzman, the Deportivo Saprissa midfielder, who did not train after suffering a knock.

He told the Al Dia newspaper: "I have to do well in training because the coach [Ricardo La Volpe] likes players who are focused.

"They have given me the opportunity and I have to play well for the good of the team. It's a different position, but not unknown to me."

Costa Rica sent a squad made up largely of Under 23s to Argentina as they answered a late call to replace Japan in the competition.

La Volpe, an Argentine, has been causing a storm in recent days after criticising the way his home nation play.

The chain-smoking coach, who was Argentina's reserve goalkeeper when they won the World Cup in 1978, labelled the host team as "individuals" who play for themselves.

Argentina entered the tournament with a wide variety of attacking talent including Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Gonzalo Higuain and more, but La Volpe, who coached Mexico when they were beaten in the second round of the 2006 World Cup by Argentina, insists they do not function together as a team. "They must no longer insist on winning with the names on the backs of their shirts, but as a team," La Volpe said of his compatriots.

Bolivia will be looking to build on their shock 1-1 draw with Argentina in the opening match of the tournament.

Lorgio Alvarez, their experienced utility player, told El Diario: "This match is equally difficult as the Argentina game, but the goal will be to win the game and settle qualification for the next round."

Carlos Arias, the Bolivia goalkeeper said: "Every game is a new story. I think whoever commits the fewest mistakes will be victorious."

Bolivia v Costa Rica, 2.15am (Friday), Aljazeera Sport +2 & +3