We realized we had to play in the playoffs against New Zealand in Qatar on June 14 in Costa Rica, and in La Teja we started looking for information about the sea country, which is why we remembered Maxim Manco.
The 32-year-old New Zealander played with Santos for six months in 2012 and has fond memories of the country and Costa Rica football.
He promises that the match between Costa Rica and New Zealand, which will provide one of the last tickets for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, will be more complicated for both teams.
Maxim was born in Ukraine, where there are relatives. He said some relatives had fled to Poland but did not want to investigate the matter. Manco has retired from professional football, but is also part of an amateur team at Onehunga Mankare United in Auckland, New Zealand.
La Teja spoke to the attacking midfielder in Auckland, New Zealand.
– What do you think about the playoffs between Costa Rica and New Zealand?
For me, New Zealand have a good team, good experience and youngsters play well, so they have a good chance. I do not know what Costa Rica is like, but I imagine it will be competitive. I do not know who is going to win, but it will be a goal.
– What is the force that New Zealand can impose against Costa Rica?
You have a good striker who plays in England (Chris Wood, in Newcastle), he plays well in the box, and other strikers who are technically and talented also play well in free kicks, corner kicks and games like that.
– Were you able to watch the Costa Rican match?
Not really, I don’t have much time.
– What do the New Zealand press say about Costa Rica?
The press did not say much about Costa Rica because they already knew the American teams were tough, they had last played in the playoffs against Peru and they had lost (0-0 in New Zealand and 2-0 in Peru), so it would be a tough game for them and for the Costa Rican team. There are many players who play at a high level, which means it will be very difficult, but we can not lose hope as New Zealand have good wins.
-The international press gives Costa Rica a favorite, do they like the role of the victims?
I think New Zealand has never been a favorite, it’s always been that way in football, it still is, but we’re not worried about it.
What do you remember about the time you played Diego football?
I played with Oswaldo Rodriguez and Sino (I do not remember his last name, it’s Juan Diego Matrix) in Norway, which was a much-loved experience. I loved being with those top players and I remember clubs like Saprissa, Alajuelense and Cartaginés. Those games were fantastic and in general I really liked the Costa Rican culture.
I was not much likely to travel as a tourist, but the quail was smaller than usual, we walked to practice, the food was fantastic and they gave us fruits, melons, watermelons, pineapples. I remember going to places like Perez, Point Pedro.
– Have you left friends in Costa Rica and are you in touch?
I do not communicate with anyone, Mario (Víquez) I remember him, he was well known in town, he helped me a lot, and many players like Victor Bolivar and Javier Loisa treated me well when I was there. Technician Eduardo Mendes, a Uruguayan, is a good and respected teacher.
– Is he back?
I could not return, I was in Argentina for many years, after which I moved to Costa Rica, then I returned to New Zealand, and then I was in Chile for half a year. I would love to come back, but the borders in this country are open once this govt is over. My two children will grow up and I will be back in a couple of years. Their names are Augusto and Maya and with my wife Zaveera.
– What do you remember when they talked to you about Costa Rica?
For people, this is very good. I found people to be as relaxed as the ones from Quabbles, and they treated me well from the day I arrived. They are very respectful. I met some very loving others from Quabils. I remember a good game at Fellow Mesa, Cortagenes took first place, we took third place, the field was filled an hour ago, and I remember they looked at us and whistled so much we didn’t hear. We leveled at zero, but it was so much fun. This is an incredible match.
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