DOHA — The last place at this year’s World Cup will be decided on Tuesday in Doha when Costa Rica face New Zealand in their intercontinental playoff.
The match at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium pits the fourth- placed finishers in the CONCACAF qualifying group against the top team in the Oceania confederation and the winners will play in Group E at the finals in Qatar along with Germany, Japan and Spain.
Costa Rica, looking to qualify for a third successive World Cup, reached the quarter-finals in Brazil eight years ago and having had substantially more competitive matches over the last four years will be favorites to advance.
Since the last World Cup, they have played 30 competitive games compared with five for New Zealand which have all been against low-ranked Pacific island nations.
“Costa Rica have played a lot together and have a lot of caps,” said New Zealand coach Danny Hay, whose side played Peru and Oman in warm-up matches over the last week.
“We don’t really get enough opportunity to test ourselves against top quality opposition.”
Hay admitted the behind closed doors draw with Oman on Friday was not the greatest performance by his team.
“But that said, I think everybody’s got half an eye, if not a full eye, if not two eyes on Costa Rica,” he added.
Costa Rica defender Francisco Calvo warned his side will need to be wary of complacency.