The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, which will take place between July 20 and August 20, will have as a participant the Costa Rican team that reaches its second World Cup. Interview with Amelia Valverde, who directs the 'ticas'
The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup will take place between July 20 and August 20. Costa Rica will play its second world championship, and for this reason we spoke with Amelia Valverde, who will be in charge of directing the 'ticas' in their second world championship.
Two months after directing their second World Cup, Amelia Valverde, coach of the Costa Rican Women's Team, is aware that the 'ticas' will face a difficult group in their second participation in the top women's event. Despite this, he is confident in the preparation they have developed and affirms with conviction that the main objective is to compete in all three games.
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The LatinAmerican Post: How do you see the group practically two months before the World Cup?
Amelia Valverde: I think it has been a year of great growth, having had five friendly matches has been able to give us some kind of feedback. We have had very dynamic rivals in terms of their structure; Mexico, Colombia, Nigeria, Poland and Scotland, which are different styles. So I think that the group has come in that preparation phase and we are hoping to have full time to be able to work with them a little more, since we have only seen them on FIFA dates. The results may not have accompanied us, but we are very clear about where we are and where we are going.
LP: What does it mean for you to lead your second World Cup?
AV: It is a great responsibility, they are very different moments. Eight years ago it was my turn to debut in an official tournament as a senior coach and today, eight years later, many tournaments, matches and experiences have passed. The feeling of responsibility, care and love for my country is evidently the same, I even think it may be greater now. Although I am invaded by a bit of uncertainty due to the differences that may exist between one World Cup and another, due to everything we have experienced, the number of players who have changed, the generations that have come and, above all, the group that must be prepared. I am excited because I look forward to being able to have the group and prepare for the World Cup as such.
LP: What is your evaluation of these eight years of process?
AV: It has been a roller coaster of many things, there have been very good moments such as qualifying for the World Cup, the silver medal in the Central American and Caribbean Games (2018), the bronze medal in the Pan American Games (2019) and the gold in the Central Americans (2017) , as well as not so pleasant moments; The one we remember the most is the failure to qualify for the World Cup in France 2019. But the assessment is that it has been a process of great growth.
LP: Costa Rica is characterized by having experienced players and younger ones. How do you see this mixture of experience and youth?
AV: It is the result of a process that took place a few years ago. Precisely, there are four players who have played more than 100 games for the national team and those who accumulate between 60-80 are the U-20 generation of 2014. And there is also the generation that played for the U-17 in 2014, which has given many resources to the selection. So I think they have been doing a certain combination and certain processes in some positions and it has been important. Now we have four or five players who were in the last U-20 last year and who are going to inject that portion of youth that is essential for us, as well as experience.
LP: In the World Cup you are going to face a difficult group, which contains Spain, Japan and Zambia. What is your assessment of the rivals?
AV: They are three different rivals, with very particular styles. Spain is a team that has come with significant growth. In the last eight years, perhaps it has been in the round of 16 in the last World Cup, but it does so against the world champion and in the Euro it remains in the quarterfinals at the hands of England (champion). So it is a team that has a very clear style and that despite external factors with certain players, its philosophy has not changed. They have players of great technical quality, there is a very clear model that brings them from the seniors to the sub 17s in the Europeans. We faced him eight years ago in Canada with a different DT, with a relatively similar style. They are a rival who really like to have the ball, who are very clear in their idea and with very aggressive players.
In the case of Japan it is a slightly different style, although at the biotype level it is the most similar to us. They changed coach and style. They went to a very particular line of five and they really like to attack the spaces. Technically they are very clear and tactically they look like a clock; It is an orderly and structured team. Although we are very clear that despite the fact that both teams really like having the ball, they have different styles in their way of trying to attack.
As for Zambia, although they are rookies in a World Cup, they come from having a very good African Cup. They have been playing very important friendlies, they have worked well and their coach's idea is very clear. Obviously, the speed and the physical part predominate. The attacker and the players on the outside are extremely fast.
LP: What is Costa Rica's objective in this tournament?
AV: First, we are very clear that we want to compete in all three games. Our record in World Cups may not be so favourable, but we do have a great illusion of being able to work. Japan and Spain are top rivals, one is world champion and the other is practically superior to almost everyone in minors. The objective is to prepare the team as best as possible to try to have a competitive tournament.
LP: Do you think this World Cup will be the best Women's World Cup in history?
AV: I think it will mark a before and after because it is the first World Cup with 32 teams. It is the first World Cup where the same conditions of preparation and logistics are given to a World Cup of 32 men's teams, as those that have been given up to now. I think that the level is going to be quite good, what we saw in the last Eurocup was impressive and I think that it will add to what it will be now at a world level. We have to put the magnifying glass on the World Cup, especially with teams that are not used to seeing.
LP: How can the gaps that exist with respect to the great powers be reduced?
AV: I think there has to be a country plan because the national teams are obviously the reflection of many things. There are sporting differences between some teams and others, but it happens in all areas, in men's and women's teams, in minor teams in both categories, etc. So I think that being able to inject the greatest amount of resources into the national team means that there are more girls playing , more media covering the games and more sponsors approaching the first division teams and the clubs, which are the ones that prepare They receive and train the players, they can do it in the best way. From there, you can have better soccer players. The resources you have should be maximized.