Action from the World Cup qualifier between host Panama (red jersey) and Honduras on June 13, 2017, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo courtesy of Federación Panameña de Fútbol)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – For Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez, Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Honduras was one to cherish.
Down 2-1 in their CONCACAF final-round qualifier for Russia 2018, the Canaleros (1W-4D-1L, 7 points) found an equalizer in the 90th minute courtesy of defender Roman Torres, salvaging a point against a Honduras side (1W-2D-3L, 5 points) that would have jumped up to fourth place with a win.
“That point becomes marvelous because we were on the mat, eliminated,” said Gomez, whose side, instead, maintained its fourth-place position. “With the situation being as it was, the draw is marvelous.”
Unlike previous qualifiers, the 61-year-old Colombian opted for a more attacking formation, playing with only two true defenders. Gomez acknowledged it was not his customary for his side to play so offensively and believed it was the cause for Honduras taking a 2-1 lead in the 66th minute through Alberth Elis.
“It’s not my style,” he remarked. “We went out a lot in attack. The match presented itself that way. Panama attempted its football and was badly positioned on the second [Honduran] goal.”
The Panamanians trail the third-place United States by one point, but must visit table-topping Mexico (4-2-0, 14) in their next WCQ outing on September. Meanwhile, Honduras will face last-place Trinidad & Tobago (1-0-5, 3) the same day.
“One has more comfort because we have two points on Honduras, but Honduras is going to play against Trinidad & Tobago and we’re going to play Mexico,” finished Gomez.
Things could change quickly. That’s the Hex for you.