Bring on Brazil, Says Bora Despite Costa Rica Setback

Costa Rica Beat China 2-0
China were on Wednesday putting aside disappointment at defeat to Costa Rica in their first-ever World Cup tie to instead look forwards to a glamour date with Brazil.

Speaking after the side's 2-0 loss to the Central Americans in the southern city of Gwangju, coach Bora Milutinovic dismissed the idea that his players would need to be lifted for their next game, on June 8.

"Motivate them? It is a dream to play against Brazil, you do not need to motivate players to play Brazil," he said.

Most Chinese fans -- of whom around 15,000 watched Tuesday's game -- considered Costa Rica to be China's best chance of securing a win or a draw, given the relative strength of Brazil and Turkey, their other Group C opponents.

But after matching the Costa Ricans for the first hour of the game, Milutinovic's men lost concentration for a few crucial minutes, allowing Ronald Gomez and Mauricio Wright to score in quick succession.

"We need to understand it is not easy, the first time in a World Cup, but we played well for 60 minutes," Milutinovic said.

Just as worrying for the veteran Yugoslav coach, who took Costa Rica to the second round of the 1990 World Cup, are injuries to two of his most vital players, defenders Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai.

Fan, who spent three years playing football for Crystal Palace in England, was substituted midway through the second half, fearing he may have aggravated a recent foot problem. "I feel some pain and it was uncomfortable throughout the match," said Fan.

Talismanic defender Sun hobbled off the field with an ankle injury after 25 minutes and is also in doubt.

"It is very difficult to play for four days after such an injury," Milutinovic said.

But Fan said the players were already moving on from Tuesday.

"It's just a match. Already we are thinking about the next game," he said.

"If we can take something positive out of this match. that's all that matters. This is our first World Cup and our main aim is to play well. That's it."

Gomez's 61st-minute goal came after Costa Rica managed to penetrate what up to then had been a solid Chinese defence, expertly marshalled by Fan.

A Gomez back-heel to Paulo Wanchope on the edge of the area ended with the Manchester City player dispossessed with a firm tackle. But the ball fell to Gomez, who calmly curled his shot beyond Jiang Jin.

Gomez was involved in the second goal moments later, turning his marker on the edge of the area and crossing to Wright to glance a downward header past goalkeeper Jiang.

Immediately after the game, the Chinese took the short flight back to their training base on the island of Jeju, the site of the Brazil tie.

Fans' passion makes players touched
The country's final entry to the World Cup party came after 44 years of failing to qualify, and they were always likely to be outside bets in a tough opening group.

However the result will be a bitter blow to fans who had hoped against hope that Milutinovic, who has led four other nations to the World Cup second round in successive tournaments, could work his magic again.

The 57-year-old Yugoslav had warm words for the thousands who had travelled from China.

"I have a very special feeling for all the supporters, they have made lots of sacrifices of all kinds, and that is where my thoughts are tonight," he said after the game.

None probably made more sacrifices for the Chinese cause than Brian Eadie who travelled from Dundee in Scotland, where Fan played after signing from Crystal Palace last year, although the defender has since returned to Shanghai on loan.

"I've probably come further than anyone else to cheer on the Chinese," Eadie said, sporting a "Super Fan" t-shirt.

"Fan Zhiyi is great, I hope he is coming back to Dundee."

Source: Agencies

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