Costa Rica become first to set up World Cup training camp
TOKYO, May 13 (AFP)
The Costa Rican national football squad on Monday became the first overseas team to set up camp in Japan ahead of the World Cup finals due to kick off at the end of the month.
The 42-strong team flew into Kansai airport outside Osaka, western Japan, from San Francisco and travelled by coach to Suzuka, 300 kilometersmiles) southwest of Tokyo, escorted by two police patrol cars, according to press reports.
The Costa Rican players, including star striker Paulo Wanchope, settled at the Suzuka Circuit Hotel for a 10-day training camp before flying on to South Korea for the Group C first round with Brazil, Turkey and China.
They will stop by the southern Japan city of Kumamoto for a friendly against Belgium on May 26.
Wanchope and his fellow players, clad in uniform dark blue jackets, were greeted by some 150 citizens waving Costa Rican national flags in different sizes, the reports said.
They shouted, "Ola, Ola (hello, hello)," in response to a chorus of "Viva, Costa Rica."
At a welcoming ceremony at the hotel, Costa Rica coach Alexandre Guimaraes was given a lei of folded paper cranes, which was hung around his neck, while his players were presented with carnations in blue, red and white.
Suzuka is famous for its Formula One motor racing curcuit owned by Japanese carmaker Honda.
A total of 24 teams out of the 32 finalists are booked to set up final or transit training bases for the World Cup.