Action from the last World Cup Qualifying meeting between host Panama (red jersey) and Mexico on November 15, 2016, in Panama City, Panama. (Photo: Luis Licona/Straffon Images)
ATLANTA – It would be understandable that a national team would feel anxiety while gearing up for a World Cup qualifier at Mexico’s famed Estadio Azteca.
After all, the Mexicans have lost just a pair of home games in all-time WCQ play, falling to Costa Rica in 2001 and Honduras in 2013.
Despite those statistics, an air of calm surrounds Panama – the next visitor to the famous venue side. The Canaleros (1W-4D-1L) sit fourth in the CONCACAF Hexagonal with seven points through six games, seven points behind their first-place host.
“We are going to a stadium where no Panamanian national team has been able to get a point. We have possibilities. We have a great chance,” said Panama midfielder Gabriel Gomez. “What’s normal in the Azteca is to lose. But on the field we are going to show our best and give 100 percent of ourselves.”
Onlookers can see that there is a sense of unity in the Panama camp.
Whether it was defender Roman Torres pretending to be a reporter during midfielder Anibal Godoy’s press conference Tuesday or the smiles seen on the face of head coach Hernan Dario Gomez, the positive vibes have been strong.
“It has been a very good training camp in a calm environment, being able to work 100 percent,” defender Felipe Baloy commented. “I think it helps the national team go into the match in the best way and we are only thinking about getting a positive result in Mexico City.
In seven all-time WCQs between them, Mexico holds a 4-0 advantage over Panama in wins. Their previous Hexagonal meeting ended in a scoreless draw on November 15, 2016.