September 15, 2009

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) -- Costa Rica has fired coach Rodrigo Kenton following three straight losses in World Cup qualifying.

Several possible successors surfaced Tuesday, just a few hours after the dismissal, including Enrique Meza, the coach of Mexican club Cruz Azul, Leo Beenhakker and Hans Westerhof -- both of the Netherlands -- and former Argentina coach Jose Pekerman.

Costa Rica, which once led the North and Central American and Caribbean region, is in fourth place following losses to Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador. The United States leads the group with 16 points. Mexico has 15, Honduras 13 and Costa Rica 12. Salvador has 8 points and is a very long-shot to advance. Trinidad and Tobago has been eliminated.

The top three teams advance automatically. The No. 4 team faces a playoff with the No. 5 from South America for another berth.

"We thank Rodrigo for what he has done," Costa Rican federation president Eduardo Li said in a statement. "But results are important and, despite his good work, the last three games have been costly."

Costa Rica wraps up the regular round of qualifying on Oct. 10 with a home match against Trinidad and Tobago. The team then plays the United States on Oct. 14 at Washington D.C.

Kenton accepted his fate gracefully.

"In football, you know that in every game your life is on the line," Kenton said. "It's been a beautiful experience. ... We're still in the fight to qualify with games against Trinidad and the United States. We still have hope. But I'm telling you the toughest is yet to come."

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