Scotland friendly revives memories for Costa Rica’s Ramirez

Glasgow (AFP) – Costa Rica manager Oscar Ramirez will hope to repeat the success he enjoyed as a player when his side face Scotland in a Hampden Park friendly on Friday.

Ramirez was in the Costa Rica side that beat Scotland 1-0 in their opening group match of the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Scotland manager Alex McLeish was at the heart of the Scots’ defence that day as Costa Rica marked their first appearance at the World Cup finals with a stunning victory.

Now Ramirez will be in charge when the central Americans make their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals in Russia later this year. 

“It was a very important game in the history of Costa Rican football, of course, being the first match we had at the World Cup,” said Ramirez at a Hampden Park press conference on Thursday.

“We did a very good job preparing the team for Italia 90.

“A nation who had never been to a World Cup before, winning that game was a surprise. And it was an important kick-off point for our nation.

“Since 1990 there has been a big development of Costa Rican football and, of course, our more recent reference is what we did in Brazil in 2014 (when they reached the quarter-finals before losing on penalties to Holland).”

McLeish is now in his second spell as Scotland manager and Ramirez is looking forward to their reunion.

“It’s the second time this happened,” he explained.

“My first game as national team coach was against Brazil, managed by Dunga — who I played against at Italia 90.

“I didn’t remember Alex playing on the field that day, so I went back and watched the video.”

He added: “It’s nice for me to see former players from this game.”

Ramirez is set to play his strongest side as he prepares for a World Cup Group E where their opponents will be Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland.

“The idea is to play a team very similar to the side we’ll pick in the World Cup, with some adjustments and decisions,” said Ramirez.

Scotland haven’t qualified for a major tournament finals for 20 years.

McLeish wants his side to learn lessons from his bitter experience of playing Costa Rica.

“I remember it well,” he said. “I don’t think we were at our best, we were maybe a bit apprehensive about losing the game rather than embracing the fact that we have got to win this.

“And that’s what I want our guys to eliminate from their minds, and when they go into games to believe in yourself as a Scottish player.”

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