Gomez named Panama head coach

Hernan Dario Gomez, shown above as head coach of Ecuador in 2004 friendly against Mexico, was named manager of Panama on February 15, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)

PANAMA CITY, Panama -- The Panamanian Football Federation (FEPAFUT) announced Saturday that Hernan Dario Gomez has been named head coach of its men’s national team.

At a press conference, the Colombian committed himself to the quest of helping Panama reach its first FIFA World Cup.

"We start a process today that will take us to Russia 2018,” said Gomez.  “It is a dream and we will look to reach the World Cup for the first time.

'I promise you everything necessary in order to reach the World Cup.  If we join together, as in the previous qualifiers, this will be very good to go to the World Cup.”

Following a playing career that ended in the mid-1980s, the former Atletico Nacional and Independiente Medellin midfielder turned to coaching.  He was an assistant to Francisco Maturana, when Colombia qualified for the World Cup finals in 1990 and 1994.

Gomez took the Colombian managerial reins in 1995, guiding the South Americans to a third straight World Cup appearance at France 1998.

In 1999, he signed a contract to become Ecuador’s head coach and led it through a successful qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup, its first-ever finals berth.

Five years later, Gomez directed Guatemala to a third-place finish at the UNCAF Nations Cup (now known as the Copa Centroamericana) and a place at that year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

He returned to coach Colombia from May 2010-August 2011, before moving on to Independiente Medellin.

At the gathering’s conclusion, FEPAFUT President Pedro Chaluja presented to Gomez a national team jersey as a symbol of the union between the national association and the 58-year-old.