SALVADOR, June 2- Costa Rica’s fairytale run to their first ever World Cup quarter-final owes a lot to the coaching philosophy of Portugal’s ‘Special One’ Jose Mourinho, admits their Colombian coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
Mourinho may never have been a national coach but his success mainly with Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan has rubbed off on 61-year-old Pinto, who along with his unheralded team has been the biggest surprise of the finals.
Victories over former champions Uruguay and Italy and a draw with England in the final group game and a courageous win on penalties over Greece in the last 16 has given their last eight opponents the Netherlands a lot to think about.
Pinto, whose experience at tournaments prior to the World Cup was limited to coaching Colombia in the 2007 Copa America and Costa Rica at last year’s Gold Cup, says that it is crucial if one is to succeed to have a consistent coaching routine.
“My first task is the coaching and how to go about it, in order to get the most out of the training sessions as possible,” he said.
“I agree with Mourinho who says football is first about training methods: the conception, the practice and of course the strategy.”
Pinto, who began his coaching career with Bogota-based club Millonarios and has since coached 10 others, is also like Mourinho an ardent believer in the ethic of work and more work to keep his players sharp.
That was illustrated in his reaction after the 1-0 win over Italy that guaranteed them a place in the last 16.
“We will not rest on our laurels. Our World Cup is far from over,” said Pinto, who did not want his players to relax and instead retain their hunger and get the point they needed in the last group game against England to assure themselves of top spot.
However, now Pinto is willing to bask in what the little Central American country — sandwiched between Panama and Nicaragua and with a population of just 4.8million — has achieved.
“We have shown that we can play good football and that makes me proud,” he said.
Pinto, who in 2011 began a second spell as Costa Rica coach having been in charge from 2004-05, has applied himself rigorously to the coaching of the players, who largely play for unglamorous clubs.
He draws up the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents while teaching them the philosophy and training methods of historically successful teams.
“Football is my life, my passion, my profession and my distraction!” said Pinto, who has along the way won Colombian, Costa Rican, Peruvian and Venezuelan league titles.
However, Pinto says that football is no different to other things in life.
“Football evolves like the world, cars, computers. We must also evolve, in order to keep up with the constant changes in our sport,” he said.
The Costa Ricans face the Dutch in Salvador on Saturday.