Costa Rica v South Africa Preview

International Friendly | Friday 9 October  | Estadio Edgardo Baltodano Briceno | 04:00




Bafana Bafana will take on Costa Rica in a friendly on Friday, followed by a clash against Honduras five days later on 13 October. South Africa will use these friendlies as preparation for the 2017 Afcon qualifiers, whilst their opponents plan for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers next month against Haiti and Panama respectfully.

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To Win (90mins)
Costa Rica 7/10
Draw 5/2
South Africa 4/1

Costa Rica




Costa Rica’s last competitive match saw them face off against South American giants Uruguay. Bryan Ruiz's first-half goal was the difference as Costa Rica stunned La Celeste 1-0 for an overdue win in an international friendly. The victory ended a winless streak of 10 matches, dating back to November last year.

Despite new head coach Oscar Ramírez’s mere three weeks on the job, the man they call “Macho” already has Costa Rica football trending upwards. Coming into his current job, Ramirez’s résumé made it very clear that the coach stresses great defence everywhere he goes. Though their defence is individually quite average, they form a solid unit, protected by two holding midfielders and an excellent goalkeeper in Keylor Navas, making a strong central block that is hard to break down. 

Joel Campbell remains Costa Rica’s top option in attack. The 23-year-old Arsenal forward is often criticized for his streaky play, but when he’s at his best, Campbell is an outstanding creator who requires total attention from opposing defences. An expert dribbler and reliable passer, he has enough tools to swing a game’s outcome by himself. Another star who has shined early on in Ramírez’s new system is midfielder Celso Borges. Against Brazil and Uruguay, the veteran was again the engine that created a stable rhythm for Costa Rica’s offense. The 27-year-old not only flashed his ability to facilitate, he also managed to create goalscoring opportunities for himself. Coupled with budding talent of captain Ruiz and young starlet Johan Venegas, the skill level on this selection may be higher than ever. Each player is aware of his specific role in the team and when under pressure they are disciplined defensively, skilful enough to keep the ball and pick their moment to launch a dangerous counter-attack. 

Squad: 

Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas ( Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton, (Alajuelense), Esteban Alvarado (Trabzonspor)

Defenders:  Junior Diaz (Darmstadt ), Giancarlo Gonzalez ( Palermo), Cristian Gamboa (West Brom), Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Bryan Oviedo (Everton), Oscar Duarte (Club Brugge), David Myrie (Herediano), Francisco Calvo (Saprissa) Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps) 

Midfielders: Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Yeltsin Tejeda (Evian), Johan Venegas (Montreal Impact), David Guzman (Saprissa), Oscar Granados (Herediano), Deyver Vega (Saprissa), Elias Aguilar (Herediano)


Forwards: Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Joel Campbell (Arsenal), Marco Urena (Midtjylland), Daniel Colindres (Saprissa). 



South Africa


Mpho Makola scored on his debut as South Africa broke their duck against Senegal with a 1-0 win in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge last time out. The Orlando Pirates midfielder decided affairs with a stunning 78th minute strike as Bafana Bafana put in a markedly improved display from their embarrassing 3-1 loss to Mauritania in an AFCON qualifier a few days prior.

Victory also saw Bafana retain the Mandela Challenge for the first time since 2009, whilst manager Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba bettered Clive Barker's mark with 23 wins as Bafana coach. South Africa have struggled in the AFCON Qualifiers, with just one point from two matches and a win here will go a long way in building momentum ahead of the qualifier against Cameroon next month. Bafana Bafana will look to their possession based game but playing away from home will make it difficult. However, even without the ball, they have proven dangerous, turning defence into attack in the blink of an eye.

Kaizer Chief’s fan favourite George Lebese gets a first time call-up after his impressive form for AmaKhosi. The 26-year old is a tremendous talent – he has an eye for goal as well as an abundance of skill and vision to pick a pass. Dean Furman and Andile Jali will keep the ball rolling in the middle of the park for Bafana whilst Thulani Serero is the danger man. His creativity is his biggest threat as he conducts plays with his incredible passing; generating space for his teammates. 

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Jackson Mabokgwane (Mpumalanga Black Aces FC), Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United).

Defenders: Eric Mathoho (Kaizer Chiefs), Rivaldo Coetzee (Ajax Cape Town), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits), Siyabonga Nhlapo (Bidvest Wits), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk), Mzikayise Mashaba (Mamelodi Sundowns), Clayton Daniels (SuperSport United), Thabo Matlaba (Orlando Pirates).

Midfielders: Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Andile Jali (KV Oostende), Bongani Zungu (Sundowns), Mandla Masango (Randers), Jabulani Shongwe (Bidvest Wits), Mpho Makola (Orlando Pirates), Ayanda Patosi (Lokeren), George Lebese (Kaizer Chiefs), Oupa Manyisa (Orlando Pirates), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam).

Forwards: Thamsanqa Gabuza (Orlando Pirates), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits), Tokelo Rantie (Bournemouth), Prince Nxumalo (Ajax Cape Town).

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Betting Verdict: Costa Rica 7/10
Costa Rica are ranked 42nd in the world rankings, whilst South Africa are place 73rd. It should be a tight affair with both teams possessing a strong defence and that could be the key for the victory here. However, South Africa lack a bit of quality up front and Costa Rica should do enough to claim the win.  

Written by Aaron Crowie for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!