Panama (pictured) celebrates after scoring against host Honduras in a World Cup qualifier on November 11, 2016, in San Pedro Sula. (Photo: FIFA.com)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – Panama is vowing to stay focused after earning a 1-0 victory at Honduras on Friday to open the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
It was only the Canaleros’ second win in 21 all-time Hexagonal games, but the excitement of the achievement was tempered by the fact that Mexico will be visiting the Estadio Rommel Fernandez on Tuesday.
“It is the dream of everyone, but nothing has been won, nothing has been achieved,” said midfielder Armando Cooper. “There is a long way to go. The only thing that this victory serves as is to continue on.”
Fidel Escobar struck for the game’s lone goal in the 22nd minute, when his free kick from 22-yards out took a slight deflection before hitting the back of the net.
Goalkeeper Jaime Penedo made some key saves in the early stages of the second half as Panama extended its unbeaten streak against Honduras in World Cup qualifiers to five games.
“Fidel scored a beautiful goal,” Cooper added. “We leave with the victory. We start on the right foot.”
Downplaying the significance of his first-ever goal for Panama, Escobar instead preferred to share the credit and look ahead.
“I was not the hero, but all of my teammates were,” concluded the 22-year-old. “I didn’t do it alone. Now, we think about Mexico.”