Panama defender Ramon Torres (white jersey) tries to retain possession during a World Cup qualifier against host Trinidad & Tobago on March 24, 2017. (Photo: CA-Images)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Panama (1W-1D-1L, 4 points) is not panicking after a suffering its first loss of the CONCACAF Hexagonal, dropping a 1-0 decision to host Trinidad & Tobago (1-0-2, 3) on Friday.
Despite the setback, the Canaleros remained in third place, but the next three teams trail them by a single point each.
With a match against the visiting United States looming Tuesday, head coach Hernan Dario Gomez is hammering home the message that a win would ensure that his team remains – at worst -- in third place, or could move as high as first.
“This is still not over, this is just beginning,” Gomez said Sunday night. “We suffered a defeat that disrupted me and all of the boys. But if you look at the table we are third, which is what you try to do when this series of matches finishes on Tuesday…try to remain third.”
Tuesday night’s match marks the first time Panama will host the U.S. since October 2013, when the Americans struck twice in second-half stoppage time to rally for a 3-2 win on the final matchday of CONCACAF qualifying for Brazil 2014. The result prevented the Panamanians from reaching the Intercontinental Playoff against New Zealand and opened the door for Mexico.
The USA’s impressive 6-0 triumph over Honduras compelled Gomez to call on the home fans for maximum support.
“The fans cannot leave now because of the [Trinidad and Tobago] loss,” he finished. “More than ever, they should join us. A big opponent is coming. Nobody is qualified, nor is anyone eliminated.