Costa Rica captured the hearts of most neutrals who are enjoying the best World Cup ever, but sadly they are out after a fabulous run that ended with a penalty shootout loss to Holland after a 0-0 finish on Saturday.
Being the last CONCACAF side left in the tournament made Costa Rica another reason to focus on them for many in Cayman, but now the semifinals feature perennial world beaters.
The Dutch face Argentina in Sao Paulo on Wednesday at 3 p.m. and many Costa Rica supporters in Cayman hope the free-scoring Holland will go on to win the tournament, although Germany remain the staunch favorites for most making an objective assessment.
Germany appear in their fourth consecutive semifinal and face a Brazil side on Tuesday in Belo Horizonte, also at 3 p.m., missing key players but still riding on a wave of local fervor.
Holland were foiled against Costa Rica, but their three goals per game average before that match worries Argentina, who are without winger Angel di Maria, and the pressure will increase for the already over-burdened Lionel Messi.
Marisol Danziger was one of the more vocal Costa Rican supporters at the Lone Star restaurant in West Bay Road who watched the match against Holland on TV. Costa Rica’s appeal was compelling. Even Michael Klein, a German, was there in a Costa Rican jersey rooting for the minnows.
Cayman resident Danziger blew a horn and waved her national flag. “I am not disappointed at all,” she said. “My country was amazing. From the first game we started, all the odds and everyone was against us and we went without fear. We had expectations and our guys were amazing.”
Danziger added that for all Costa Ricans, football is a big passion and part of their culture. She is especially proud of Costa Rica’s exceptional goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who was clearly one of the best stoppers in Brazil
The fact that Holland were unable to score against them is a source of great pride, she added.
“Yes, we lost, but in the best way possible.”
She added that she always supports CONCACAF and Latin American countries, so now her allegiance lies with Brazil and Argentina.
But she picks Germany to be eventual tournament winners because of their consistency at this level.
Reno Jackson is a Caymanian who supports Holland because he has family connections there. He was at Lone Star too and enjoyed the heart-stopping moments before getting through.
“Costa Rica played really well because they were underdogs,” he said. “They’ve scored goals which you didn’t expect them to score.”
He hopes that Holland will beat Argentina and is encouraged that Di Maria is injured, but no team that boasts Messi can be dismissed, he said.
Jackson believes that if Holland go through, the match is likely to be as tight as their passage against Costa Rica, possibly via penalties.
He wants Brazil to beat Germany but would not be surprised if the Europeans march on.
“Brazil are weakened because they’ve lost Thiago Silva and Neymar, so I think Germany might get to the final,” Jackson said. “Germany is so strong. I’ve got the feeling they will win it this time.”