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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Costa Rica's road to the finals
Fonseca in action during Costa Rica's qualifying campaign
Fonseca's goals helped seal a World Cup spot
BBC Sport Online reflects on Costa Rica's mix of the slow and specatacular en route to the finals.

It took a while for the Costa Rican qualifying machine to get going but once it did, there was no looking back.

After a shaky start and a change of coaches, the team stepped up a gear to seal one of the three World Cup spots available in North and Central America.

Brazilian Gilson Nunez had led Costa Rica into the qualifying campaign, but it was former star Alex Guimaraes who would take them to only their second appearance in the finals.

In fact, Guimaraes seemed to be the ideal man for the job, having played in the country's one and only previous appearance in the event in 1990.

Qualifying campaign
Semi-final group stage
L 1-2 Barbados (a)
W 2-1 USA (h)
W 2-1 Guatemala (h)
W 3-0 Barbados (h)
D 0-0 USA (a)
L 1-2 Guatemala (a)
Play-off
W 5-2 Guatemala

After receiving a bye through the preliminary round of the Concacaf qualifying series, the team took it a little too easy in the following round with the USA, Guatemala and Barbados.

Costa Rica clearly did not travel well and a 2-1 loss to minnows Barbados forced the side into a play-off with Guatemala for a place in the final qualifying round.

A change of approach was needed and Guimaraes took over the coaching role in January 2001.

The effect on Costa Rica's fortunes was dramatic and, after a 5-2 victory against Guatemala, the team went from strength to strength.

Road to the finals
Final group stage
D 2-2 Honduras (h)
W 3-0 Trin & Tobago (h)
W 1-0 USA (a)
W 2-1 Mexico (a)
W 3-2 Honduras
W 2-0 Trin & Tobago (a)
W 2-0 USA (h)
D 0-0 Mexico (h)
W 1-0 Jamaica (a)

Their talent going forward soon attracted headlines and star of their World Cup campaign was Manchester City striker Paulo Wanchope.

Leading the attack with Rolando Fonseca, Wanchope helped the "Ticos" notch up 25 goals in 14 qualifiers.

Consecutive wins over Mexico, Jamaica and Honduras saw Guimaraes' side move to the top of the table.

The win over Mexico was a real upset. They became the first team ever to win in the Mexican's Azteca stadium, ending their hosts' 52-match unbeaten run at the venue.

But it was a memorable 2-0 triumph against the USA in San Jose on 5 September 2001 that sealed Costa Rica's World Cup spot.

A packed Ricardo Saprissa stadium witnessed Fonseca score twice to secure his team's place in Korea and Japan with two games in hand.

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GROUP C
  P GD PTS
BRAZIL 3 +8 9
TURKEY 3 +2 4
COSTA RICA 3 -1 4
CHINA 3 -9 0

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