Knee injury may keep Wanchope out of finalsPosted: Friday April 26, 2002 11:54 AM
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) -- A severe knee injury may keep one of Costa Rica's most prolific goal-scorers from playing in the World Cup he worked so hard to help his country qualify for.
Forward Paulo Cesar Wanchope, 25, led the Costa Rican national team with 13 goals in World Cup qualifying last year. In his most recent action with the national squad, Wanchope scored twice as Costa Rica cruised to a 3-1 win over South Korea during the Copa de Oro tournament in February.
The win saw Costa Rica advance to the tournament's finals for the first time, eventually losing to the United States 2-0.
But in March, doctors discovered a lesion on the inside of his right knee that they say will keep him off the soccer field indefinitely. Knee problems have haunted Wanchope's career: He had surgery on his left knee in 1997 and on his right knee in February and October of last year.
"There's no reason to put my head down," Wanchope said in a recent interview. "Now I just need to focus on recuperating to be ready for the World Cup."
Costa Rican coach Alexandre Guimaraes said he remained optimistic that Wanchope would be healed by the start of World Cup play and would hold Wanchope's national-squad roster spot for "as much time as he needs." Still, the coach has named Winston Parks as Wanchope's replacement if he's not ready to play in the World Cup.
Wanchope, who has played professionally in England since 1994, has been a top goal-scorer for Derby County, West Ham United and, most recently, Manchester City.
In 43 international matches, Wanchope has scored 32 goals. That tally is second in Costa Rica, behind national squad teammate Rolando Fonseca, who has 34 goals.