This interview was published in the December issue of Sports Tribune magazine
Like other countries in Central America, football is also the most popular sport in Costa Rica. The country achieved its best success during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where they stunned Italy, Uruguay and England to reach the quarter-final for the first time. Daniel Colindres couldn’t make the 2014 squad but his late impression earned him more national team appearances from the following year onwards. Colindres enjoyed best times in his eight-year long professional career in 2018 at the age of 33.
At last, Colindres’s dream came true in 2018 when he made a substitute appearance against Serbia to make his World Cup debut in Russia. He also started and featured for 81 minutes during the 2-2 draw against Switzerland. Colindres also captained Costa Rica’s most successful club, Deportivo Saprissa, in his final domestic season on home soil and guided his “main club” to the championship title. The 33-year old didn’t change his jersey number (26) when he moved to Bangladesh, his first move outside his country for the first time to join newly-promoted premier league outfit Bashundhara Kings this season. Colindres became the centre of attention on and off the pitch since his arrival, not only for being the first World Cupper (also first from Costa Rica) to feature in the professional league in Bangladesh, but also for the performance he exhibited during the Federation Cup that concluded on November 23. On the eve of the season’s second professional tournament, the Independence Cup, Dhaka Tribune caught up with the Costa Rican forward at his new club Wednesday evening, and he really opened up himself.
It’s been two and half months in Dhaka. How have been those days so far?
Dhaka is a very good city; it has some very good restaurants. I met very good friends. I have a good stay in Dhaka so far thanks to my team and the management. I don’t have any complaint about my stay in Dhaka. I drive, I use rickshaw, I use CNG, and I now know lots of restaurants.
The most interesting thing is the traffic. But no complaint (laughs)! The funny thing is there is a lot of traffic and one day you see an elephant on the street. It’s amazing.
How was your first World Cup experience?
It was very good for me but not for the team. All players want to play the World Cup. It was also my dream since when I started playing soccer. Not everyone get the chance to represent the country in the World Cup, so it was good experience for me. For my country, qualifying for the World Cup is a very good success. There was a very big party when Costa Rica qualified for the World Cup because soccer is the most popular sports in my country. So if you don’t qualify, your federation runs out of money, but when qualified, the sponsors, the press, the people’s interest grow up.
You already played a tournament in Bangladesh, so what’s your observation on the standard of Bangladesh’s domestic football?
It’s good. It’s physical but it’s good. There are lots of African players and also Asian. The African players are very strong and very fast. Bangladeshi players are physical too. May be similarly they copy to premier league (English) soccer - physical, long ball, more chasing, it’s similar like that. The English Premier League is one of the most important leagues in the world, but Bangladesh has similarities. But you need the tactical things too. You need to understand the crosses as well.
The difference between Bangladesh and Costa Rican football?
The difference is - soccer in my country is the most popular sports. In Bangladesh, most popular sport is cricket. All kids want to be a professional soccer player in my country, but in Bangladesh, they want to become professional cricket players. This is the difference.
There are two domestic leagues in my country each year – one during the rainy season (Torneo de Invierno) and other one during the summer (Torneo de Verano). Every 12 participating club have their own stadiums; they play a total of 24 matches with each other on home and away basis. Four top finishers qualify for the play-offs. They play semi-final and final. The format is as same as the Mexican league.
The appeal committee of the BFF has reduced the suspension of Bashundhara Kings duo Sushanta Tripura and Tawhidul Alam Sabuj and Abahani Limited defender Mamun Miah through a meeting at BFF House in Dhaka Wednesday.https://t.co/Z15l9iSM7t#BFF #BANGLADESH #BANGLADESHFOOTBALL— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) December 12, 2018
So, do you have some idea about cricket?
Sometimes I watch the TV and one day I saw a cricket game of three days (Test). You hit the ball and it goes and you score four. Hit the ball and go over the line and you score six. When you don’t hit the ball and the ball hits you (wicket) and you are out. It was Bangladesh’s national team’s match against West Indies.
What else did you know about Bangladesh before coming here?
I read about Bangladesh. I read about the longest beach in the world, I read about the Sylhet tea garden, the Sundarbans. I read about crowded city. I read that people are very friendly. I read about religion, majority of people are Muslim. I want to visit those places. I like beach places. I want to see Tiger or Elephant. You can see a lot of animals in Sundarbans.
Costa Rican national players usually play in South and North American leagues. Some move to Europe. Why did you choose Bangladesh?
When this negotiation was happening, I had three other offers – one in South America (Brazil), but the negotiations went down, I also had offers from two clubs in India as well. My departure was not very good for the Saprissa fans. I was the captain of Saprissa where I won title last season.
How was your life in Costa Rica?
My life in Costa Rica was similar like here. Like other kids I wanted to be a professional footballer. I tried but my parents wanted me to be a student. When I became professional footballer I had a schedule to follow. I go to training every day, take rest and play football. I always prepare staying at my home.
I played a season in the second division before making debut in the top-flight at Saprissa. Before that I was a national futsal player in 2007. I went to PanAmericano Games in Rio to play futsal representing my country. I joined Saprissa in 2009 and played there (for eight-nine years) until I joined Kings, during that time I was loaned to play for three other clubs.
Saprissa won most trophies in my country. I won six league titles with them out of the club’s total 34. The most memorable one was the last one where I was the captain.
How was your first playing experience in Dhaka during the Federation Cup?
We lost the final. It’s hard to me because I tried to do everything to be champion but Abahani (Limited) played a very good game. I don’t have anything more to say.
What do you want to say about four red cards in the final?
Some players asked me what is happening, I say this can happen. Such things also happen in Costa Rica. The penalty needs to be serious and make sure such things don’t happen. If it happens in my country some of these players could miss about 10 games with penalties.
Whose defence you found most difficult to play against?
I heard about Topu (Barman, Abahani) but he was injured. Masih (Saighani) is very good defender. Alison (Udoka) from Sheikh Russel (Krira Chakra) is also a very good defender. Nofel defence I don’t remember the names but they have two Nigerians in centre back, very strong. I regard three teams – (Lt.) Sheikh Jamal (Dhanmondi Club Limited), Sheikh Russel and Abahani as very good sides. Among the forwards, [Kervens] Belfort is very good.
What’s the target for the rest of the season?
We couldn’t win the Federation Cup but we made it to the final. All the teams in Bangladesh saw us and said Bashundhara Kings are a very good team, play very good, try to hold the ball, try to attack, so in the Independence Cup we need to do the same things, and if possible go to the final and win it. In the Bangladesh Premier League, we go step by step. But we should go with very good objective. My target is to win, demonstrate Bashundhara’s very ambitious project.