A 2-1 win against Costa Rica booked Panama's first World Cup berth in the nations history.
Panama World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide
After going agonisingly close four years ago, Panama finally booked their first ticket to a World Cup by finishing third in the CONCACAF qualifying group after a dramatic victory against Costa Rica. With a team more hard working than talented, and players who have been playing together for a long time, the Canaleros have a tough draw and will do well to get out of the group.
Related: World Cup TV Schedule
Key Moments in Qualifying
A goal from Fidel Escobar earns a surprise victory in Honduras at the start of the fifth round.
After a good draw with Mexico, the team begins to stutter. A defeat in Trinidad & Tobago and a draw at home to the USA sees Panama lose the advantage over the rest of the pack that they had acquired in the opening games.
A 3-0 victory against Honduras breaks a six-game winless streak that had taken them from third to fifth place in the group. But a month later, a 4-0 loss in the US means they have to win their final game against Costa Rica and hope Honduras and the Americans lose.
The miracle happens. A goal by Blas Perez – which never crossed the line – and another by Roman Torres in the dying minutes gives Panama a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica.
Panama World Cup Group
Panama World Cup Friendlies
Panama played against Denmark on the 22nd March and lost 1-0. They then got absolutely hammered 6-0 against Switzerland five days later. On the 29th of May they will play against Northern Ireland. Their final warm-up match will be against Norway on the 6th of June.
- 22nd March – Denmark (lost 1-0)
- 27th March – Switzerland (lost 6-0)
- 28th May – Northern Ireland
- 6th June – Norway
Related: World Cup Friendlies
Panama World Cup Fixtures
Related: World Cup Fixtures
Hernan Dario Gomez, age 61 (03.02.61)
Appointed in February 2014, the Colombian has become an expert in South America and CONCACAF qualification, having previously booked a ticket with Colombia in 1998 and Ecuador in 2002. His record in the tournament is less successful, having been twice eliminated in the first round.
There aren’t too many standout players in the squad, but if you have to choose one it would be captain Roman Torres, who scored the goal that clinched qualification. Known as “Mazinger” because his body resembles that of a wrestler more than a footballer, he embodies the team virtue of determination rather than skill.
The spine of the team has been the same for at least eight years, with goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, defender Felipe Baloy, midfielder Gabriel Gomez, and strikers Blas Perez, Armando Cooper and Luis Tejada.
Tragically, midfielder Amilcar Henriquez was killed in a robbery in April 2017. Aged 33 and with 84 caps, he was an essential part of coach Gomez’s system.
Related: World Cup Stadiums
Panama World Cup Squad
Preliminary World Cup Squad –
Goalkeepers – Jose Calderon, Jaime Penedo, Alex Rodriguez
Defenders – Felipe Baloy, Harold Cummings, Erick Davis, Fidel Escobar, Adolfo Machado, Michal Amir Murillo, Luise Ovalle, Roman Torres
Midfielders – Ricardo Avila, Edgar Barcenas, Miguel Camargo, Armando Cooper, Anibal Godoy, Gabriel Gomez, Valentin Pimentel, Alberto Quintero
Forwards – Abdiel Arroyo, Blas Perez, Luis Tejada, Gabriel Torres
Panama World Cup Injuries
We will update you with notable injuries here.
Captain: Roman Torres (middle) is the best of a team that is made up of hard-workers, not stars (Getty Images)
The Unanswered Questions
Will Hernan Dario Gomez dare to make changes?
Of the team that started the decisive match against Costa Rica, only three – Fidel Escobar (22), Edgar Barcenas (24) and Anibal Godoy (27) – were under 29. But while the coach’s commitment to experience may have paid off against regional opponents, a lack of pace could be a handicap against more powerful opposition.
What to do with Felipe Baloy?
For years he has been a rock in the defence. But relegated to the bench for the Costa Rica game, it is pertinent to ask whether, at 36, he can still contribute.
Will the team be able to compete in the World Cup?
After booking their ticket, the prevalent feeling is that the team have done the hard part. The hope now is that they arrive in Russia with sufficient motivation to pull off an upset like Costa Rica did four years ago.
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