Tiny Costa Rica Is A World Cup Surprise — Even To Its Own Fans

Costa Rica entered into the World Cup an underdog, but the team has emerged from group play having beaten three former World Cup winners. Costa Rican fan Ericka Mora speaks with Melissa Block from San Jose about the excitement in the country's capital.

Costa Rican fans react to their success on the field — scored with dramatic music, of course.

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Now an introduction.

ERICKA MORA: So my name is Ericka Mora. I live in San Jose, Costa Rica. I am 27 years old. I'm a photographer. And I'm a very excited football fan.

BLOCK: Very excited because tiny Costa Rica has stunned the world and made it to the World Cup quarterfinals. They play the Netherlands on Saturday. No one gave Costa Rica a chance in its group of death with England, Uruguay and Italy - all three teams former World Cup champions. But of that quartet, the Ticos are now the sole survivor. And Ericka Mora is as surprised as anybody.

MORA: We watched the matches before the World Cup. And we didn't see, like, a very good team. And we thought, I don't know. We actually thought it was going to be a disaster.

BLOCK: (Laughing) And it was anything but a disaster. So...

MORA: Yeah. We were so surprised. We couldn't believe it ourselves.

BLOCK: So after the first match in the group stage, when Costa Rica beat Uruguay 3 to 1, what happened there in San Jose, Costa Rica?

MORA: We all went crazy, first of all. There is a roundabout that it's called The Hispanic Fountain. If you're close, you just walk there - or run if you have the energy. Once you're there, you start taking selfies with people you don't know. You start hugging them. And you start screaming and yelling and, you know, parading and playing our drums. And - oh, and there's a lot of confetti. And people, like, throw water up in the air, and you get very wet.

BLOCK: And then, after Uruguay, Costa Rica beat Italy one-nothing, tied with England, so England was out - three former World Cup champions.

MORA: Yeah.

BLOCK: It's crazy.

MORA: Isn't that amazing?

BLOCK: It is pretty amazing.

MORA: Actually, there's a funny thing. When the match against England was over, we were thinking, wow. This was, like, a boring match.

BLOCK: Because it was 0-0?

MORA: Yeah. And I was talking to a friend of mine, right? And we were saying, how did we get to the point in which playing against England is boring? I mean, who are we? Who do we think we are?


MORA: After the match with Italy, we all went to The Hispanic Fountain that I was telling you about. And the president went. And he walked from his house to the fountain.

BLOCK: The president of Costa Rica?

MORA: Yeah.

BLOCK: He joined the celebration...

MORA: Yeah.

BLOCK: Right there in the center of town?

MORA: Yeah. And it was on Friday. We all had to work. (Inaudible) here has dropped down.

BLOCK: Yeah, I bet. Now, was the president taking selfies, throwing confetti along with everybody else?

MORA: Yeah.

BLOCK: He was? Ericka, do you know anybody who is not watching these World Cup games there in Costa Rica?

MORA: I - no. I don't. I know people that didn't like soccer that are now obsessed.

BLOCK: Yeah. It's funny how that works.

MORA: I know, right?

BLOCK: All it takes is some winning.

MORA: Well, I don't know if it's - if, this Saturday, we don't win against the Netherlands, I think we are still going to be very, very, very happy. It's just that we know how hard things are here - how hard it is to get out of Costa Rica. You see? It's hard to get an opportunity to shine outside. So we're just excited that they are shining so brightly.

BLOCK: Ericka Mora, thanks so much for talking to us. And best of luck on Saturday for - when Costa Rica takes on the Netherlands.

MORA: Oh, thank you. I'm so nervous.

BLOCK: That's photographer and Tico-supporter Ericka Mora. We reached her in the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose.


UNIDENTIFIED BAND: (Singing in Spanish).

BLOCK: And meanwhile, tomorrow at the World Cup in Brazil, France faces Germany, and Brazil takes on Columbia. We'll have coverage of those matches tomorrow on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.


UNIDENTIFIED BAND: (Singing in Spanish).


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