With goalkeeper Jaime Penedo out with an injury, Jose Calderon (pictured) could start for Panama in upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: AFP Services)
ATLANTA – It will be strange to see Panama take the field in World Cup Qualifying without Jaime Penedo in goal, but the Canaleros believe his absence can be overcome.
The 35-year-old, who has started 10 of Panama’s 12 CONCACAF qualifiers for Russia 2018, will miss Friday’s encounter at Mexico in Mexico City with a right thigh injury.
All signs point toward Jose Calderon, who has started Marathon’s first three games in the 2017 Honduran Apertura, getting the nod in net. He has the support of his teammates.
“The truth is that Penedo’s absence is difficult,” said defender Erick Davis. “Jaime is an important player, but Calderon is also a good goalkeeper. We have gotten ourselves together to face a big commitment against Mexico, which we hope to overcome with a top grade.”
Another player who is looking to step up against the Tricolor is forward Roberto Nurse. An eight-month injury layoff kept him away from the national team, but he has one goal in five appearances this season for Mineros de Zacatecas in the Mexican Ascenso.
Now healthy and back with the national team, Nurse is keen to find the back of the net on Friday.
“We have the players to do the job,” the 33-year-old said. “We are focused and ready for the two matches. I know that I owe a lot to the national team. I come in with the hope of scoring against Mexico.”
Panama sits fourth in the CONCACAF Hexagonal standings with seven points through six games, one point behind the United States for the last automatic qualifying spot for Russia 2018.