Panama now looks ahead to many World Cup firsts

Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez (pictured) during the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the State Kremlin Palace on December 1, 2017, in Moscow, Russia. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)

MOSCOW -- Everything is new for Panama in the FIFA World Cup.

Not only will the Canaleros be making their debut in the tournament, they will be facing a trio of sides for the first-ever time.

At the Final Draw for Russia 2018 held Friday in Moscow’s Kremlin State Palace, Belgium, Tunisia and England were selected to face the Central American power in Group G.

Though the rivals are new to Panama, head coach Hernan Dario Gomez believes the experience of a pair of November friendlies – a 2-1 loss to Iran in Austria on November 9 and a 1-1 draw with Wales in Cardiff five days later – is beneficial.

“It’s very important to be in a World Cup,” Gomez said. “We come to face big teams, European teams, very hard teams. We already have a profile [of our opponents] and, fortunately, we had two friendlies against Wales, which is like England, and Iran, which is like Tunisia.”
Panama will be the first team from CONCACAF to be make its entrance on the World Cup stage since Trinidad & Tobago in 2006.


Panama – 2018 FIFA World Cup Schedule (Group G)

June 18: Belgium (Fisht Olympic Stadium -- Sochi)
June 24: England (Nizhny Novgorod Stadium -- Nizhny Novgorod)
June 28: Tunisia (Mordovia Arena -- Saransk)