La Volpe hired to manage Costa Rica
Costa Rica hired Ricardo La Volpe as its national coach Thursday, giving the job to an Argentine who coached Mexico at the 2006 World Cup.
Now his job will be getting Costa Rica to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
"This will not depend on just one person," La Volpe said at a news conference. "For my part, I can tell fans my job will be focused on qualifying and surprising some people in 2014."
Costa Rica played in the World Cup in 1990, 2002 and 2006 and has been a force in Central American soccer. It failed, however, to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa and has fired two full-time coaches in the last year - Rodrigo Kenton and Rene Simoes. The team has been led recently by interim coach Ronald Gonzalez.
La Volpe coached Mexico to the round of 16 at the 2006 World Cup, where the team lost to Argentina. La Volpe said he expected to begin coaching Costa Rica in November to prepare the team for next year's Copa Centroamericana, the regional championship.
La Volpe is an outspoken coach who ruffled feathers when he was in Mexico. He met with Costa Rican officials several weeks ago but reportedly balked at signing after disagreeing on compensation if he were fired. His salary is reported at $50,000 a month.
He declined to confirm his salary, but suggested his presence would attract sponsors to the national team.
"I start in two months, so the federation has that time to line up sponsors," La Volpe said, adding that he had "the credentials" to attract sponsorship income.
"We'll have to work a lot and see if we have the raw material here for our first challenge," he said, referring to the Central Amerian championship.
Costa Rica was only 20 seconds from qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. The team led the United States 2-1 in an October qualifier, a score that would have been enough to advance, but the Americans scored in stoppage time to salvage a draw.
The draw gave Honduras the third automatic qualifying spot. Costa Rica subsequently lost a two-game playoff against Uruguay for the final spot in the 32-team World Cup.
Costa Rica had been first in its qualifying group early on, but straight losses to Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador sent them tumbling and cost Kenton his job. Simoes was called in to coach the final matches against Trinidad, the U.S. and Uruguay.