Costa Rica’s Valverde targets U-20 Women’s World Cup berth
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Costa Rica under-20 women’s head coach Amelia Valverde (pictured) answers questions after the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship draw on November 7, 2017, in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: CA-Images)

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago – After missing out on the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship two years ago, Costa Rica is eager to make up for lost time in the 2018 edition scheduled to be played in Trinidad & Tobago from January 18-28.

Head coach Amelia Valverde is ready to make that happen.

“Two years ago we didn’t even qualify for the [finals], while four years ago we qualified for the World Cup,” said the 30-year-old, who oversees the entire women’s program for the Federación Costarricense de Futbol. “The first thing was to retake that road to qualifying for the final phase. Now we are clear that we have come to compete and qualify for a youth women’s World Cup.

“We have to go compete with those powers. That’s why you work. We have a group with enough experience and we hope that things go well for us.”

The Ticas went a perfect 3-0-0 (18GF, 0GA) overall in Central America qualifying earlier this year, sealing progression with a 7-0 win over Honduras in a Classification Stage match. Last month, at the draw for the CONCACAF event, they were selected into Group A along with host Trinidad & Tobago, Canada and Haiti.

“It is going to be a tough group,” Valverde remarked. “We are going to work and train like we have been doing and hoping that by January we’re ready so that we can handle this qualifying, which is going to be difficult.”

Valverde will have plenty of experienced talent from which to choose a roster. Ten players accounted for the team’s 18 qualifying goals, led by Saprissa forward Fabiola Villalobos (team-best six goals). Another competitor to watch is midfielder Gloriana Villalobos, who had one goal and two assists for Florida State University in the USA’s recently-completed NCAA season.

“[Costa Rica] is a national team that has been working for a long time,” finished Valverde. “We’ve had the girls in their clubs. Now it’s the final stage and it is going to be important for them to have enough time with us.”

This will be Costa Rica’s six appearance in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship.

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