Panama are new comers to the World Cup, with that comes a mixed bag of expectations all fuelled by the high emotions the team and supporters are riding on. Not to describe Panama’s success as unexpected, but the nation did celebrate their first ever World Cup qualification with a national holiday. But, hey it was a monumental occasion! Panama had been actively playing to qualify since the 1978 World Cup, it’s been a long time coming but Panama has qualified so why not celebrate?
Players to watch in Panama’s inaugural World Cup campaign:
Roman Torres – Captain of the Panama team, Torres will be crucial in keeping his team organized defensively, as based on the group draw, they will likely be defending often. The strong centreback captain will need to use his MLS experience and 108 international caps to keep his team motivated and ready to defend.
Blas Perez – Age is just a number, right? Well for 37 year old striker Blas Perez that seems to be the case. Continuing his trend of scoring for his nation, Perez has scored 10 goals in 35 matches for World Cup qualification. Honing his skills in the MLS Perez will get a nice swan song for his storied career, representing his home nation in their first ever World Cup.
Gabriel Torres – Another striker looking to make an impact, Gabriel Torres has a solid conversion rate and will be relied upon to make the most of the opportunities afforded to the Panama offence. In his 72 national appearances Torres has managed 15 goals. Now a member of Chilean League team Huachipato FC, Torres scored 9 goals in just 15 matches. He’ll need to keep that goals per game ratio high if Panama want to celebrate some offence this tournament.
It will be against all odds that Panama should move on or at they very least win a game in this group. Belgium and England are both studded with superstars, while Tunisia is no pushover either. For Panama their success has already been achieved by qualifying for their first ever World Cup. Now, it is about learning, playing, and making this a tradition the national team keeps up every four years from here on out.