Pinto happy with Ticos run

Jorge Luis Pinto (Supplied)
Jorge Luis Pinto (Supplied)

Cape Town - Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto paid tribute to his squad after seeing their historic run in the World Cup ended by a penalty shootout lottery.

Ticos weren't given much chance of escaping Group D - which also contained England, Italy and Uruguay - before the tournament had kicked off in Brazil.

However, the Central American nation surprised many when they finished top of the pool and unbeaten after three matches, setting up a clash with Greece in the last-16.

Pinto's side overcame the Euro 2004 winners on penalties to advance to the last eight for the first time in the country's history, although their dreams were dashed by the Netherlands, who won the shootout on this occasion.

The 61-year-old tactician admits it hurt to go out of the competition in such a manner, but expressed pride in his players for showing the world they are more than a match for the powerhouses.

He told reporters after the game: "We're hurt, but we feel happy nevertheless. We are thankful for the Brazilian people and their support.

"We have achieved beautiful things and people didn't believe in us. During this World Cup, we have played against great powerhouses in football. We feel happy and thankful for the team and for the country of Costa Rica.

"We were never afraid of very strong powerhouses. We were here to play, sometimes we were able to play, sometimes we weren't, but that's football. Still, I think we have presented a dignified image of Costa Rican football."

Pinto added: "Netherlands is not an easy team. They have players who have played in the Euros, the World Cup and other important leagues. We have fought from the beginning and we were well organised.

"Penalties depend on luck, but it's the way it is. We have shown that we can offer a good show and beautiful football. We defended well all the time and have shown quality.

"I told my players that I was very proud of them because they have given everything. It's not only football, it's also attitude and the way they have behaved and this deserves acknowledgment."

"What we have learned from this is that we have come here respecting huge countries we had to face, and still we played against them at an even level."

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