Panama goalkeeper Daniel Atencio (pictured) has been in outstanding form duing the 2016 CONCACAF Futsal Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – A 4-3 win over Mexico on Tuesday in the 2016 CONCACAF Futsal Championship (CFC) propelled Panama into the competition’s semifinals as the Group A winner and sealed it a place in the next FIFA Futsal World Cup.
The play of goalkeeper Daniel Atencio was key to the Canaleros’ perfect 3W-0D-0L start. He wasn’t on the team that reached the Round of 16 in the 2012 Futsal World Cup, but was delighted to help the current side earn a trip to Colombia later this year.
“More than everything it was the togetherness, we were always united,” said Atencio, when asked what has played the dominant role in Panama’s success. “The pain of one is everybody’s pain. The joy of one if everybody’s joy. Thanks to God the objective was achieved.”
With a World Cup ticket booked, the 31-year-old says Panama is now targeting the CONCACAF Futsal Championship title. Before the trophy can be lifted, a semifinal encounter against Guatemala on Thursday at the BN Arena awaits.
“We have already gotten our first objective, which was the World Cup,” Atencio finished. “Now, the objective is that we’ll do everything possible to take home that cup.”
Panama, which finished third in the 2012 CFC, fell 8-4 to Guatemala in the final of the Central American qualifying tournament in January.