worelWith the World Cup just around the corner, Panama are preparing to make their bow on the global scene.
The central American side came through 16 gruelling CONCACAF qualifiers, and will be up against England, Belgium and Tunisia in Group G.
But before a ball is kicked, here’s the low-down one everything you need to know about one of this year’s two World Cup rookies…
If Panama’s squad lacks World Cup experience, then their manager has it in spades.
Hernan Dario Gomez will be heading into this tournament having led Colombia in 1998 and Ecuador in 2002.
Both those sides won a group game too, so it’s clear Gomez knows a thing or two about World Cup football.
Nobody has won more caps for Panama than Gabriel Gomez with 141.
The 34-year-old midfielder has been loyally turning out for his country since 2003, helping them reach the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2001 and 2015.
The star man
If Panama are to have any chance in Group G, they’ll need San Jose Earthquakes’ Anibal Godoy to be on form.
The 28-year-old is his club and country’s holding man. It’s up to him to protect Panama’s defence and kick-start forays forward.
His importance is underlined by the fact San Jose have won only five of their last 19 matches when they’ve been without their holding man.
The ones you’ve heard of
Defender Roman Torres is one of Panama’s key players, and the man who scored the goal which took them to Russia.
Fans of Blackpool, Nottingham Forest and West Ham United may recall the name. Now plying his trade in MLS with Seattle Sounders, Torres was frequently tipped with a move to England around 2010 and 2011 and was even linked with a trial at the Hammers.
The ones to watch
Ismael Diaz is only 21-years-old, but the youngster has already bagged two goals from just seven international appearances.
A tricky winger, Diaz is one of Panama’s brightest prospects and is currently on the books at Deportio la Coruna’s reserve side.
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