Joel Campbell has scored 65 goals during his professional career, but few, if any, have the same importance as when he found the back of the net on June 14, 2022. You see, the San Jose native scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over New Zealand, the goal that guaranteed qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Costa Rica is the rank outsider in the latest online World Cup football betting markets, but Los Ticos fans do not care; they are simply delighted to be on the plane to Qatar. The 2022 FIFA World Cup marks the sixth time in history that Costa Rica has qualified for the World Cup, and 2022 is the third consecutive World Cup the famous red jersey of Costa Rica will be on display.
After reaching the quarter-finals stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Costa Rica fell in the group stages at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Defeats at the hands of South American rivals Brazil and Serbia meant the impressive draw enjoyed against Switzerland was not enough to see Los Ticos progress to the knockout stages of soccer’s most prestigious international tournament.
Although full of excitement and confidence going into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Costa Rica has its work cut out if it is to navigate its way through Group E. Every soccer tournament has a so-called “Group of Death,” and Group E deserves such a morbid title. Costa Rica locks horns and butts heads with soccer giants Spain and Germany, in addition to Japan, who can never be entirely written off. Los Ticos has never beaten any of the teams in their World Cup group.
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The Road to Qatar
Being part of the CONCACAF federation means the road to the World Cup is long and arduous for Costa Rica. Luis Fernando Suarez’s men narrowly missed out on automatic qualification, finishing fourth in the standings. Canada, Mexico, and the United States all progressed automatically, the latter finishing above Los Ticos by virtue of goal difference.
Costa Rica headed to Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Ar-Rayyan, Qatar, as underdogs to the much-fancied New Zealand team. New Zealand’s starting line-up featured several players competing in some of Europe’s top divisions, including striker Chris Wood, who played in the English Premier League then.
Los Ticos took an early lead with Joel Campbell smashing home from a Jewison Bennette delivery in only the third minute! Supporters back home in Costa Rica went crazy as they saw the net bulging on their television screens. New Zealand’s Wood had a goal disallowed by the video referee before the Kiwis found themselves down to ten men after Kostas Barbarouses was shown the red card, thus denting New Zealand’s chances of a comeback. Referee Mohammed Salem Yousef Abdulla Alali blew the full-time whistle, and Costa Rica secured the last 2022 FIFA World Cup place!
Campbell’s Long and Varied Career
Joel Campbell scored the all-important winning goal and will go down in Costa Rican history as the man who sent Los Ticos to the World Cup in Qatar. Campbell started his professional career at Deportivo Saprissa in 2009, a club based in San Juan de Tibas, San Jose. His performances for the Costa Rica Under 17s and Under 19s teams saw English Premier League giant Arsenal buy Campbell in August 2011. However, the British government refused Campbell a work permit, and Arsenal was forced to send him out on loan.
Campbell was loaned to seven European clubs during his seven years with Arsenal, although he did manage to play for “The Gunners” 23 times, scoring three goals. He has since moved back to South America with Club Leon in Mexico, also playing for Club de Futbol Monterrey in Mexico’s Liga MX.