Action from the international friendly between host Panama and Costa Rica (white jersey) on March 31, 2015, in Panama City. (Photo courtesy of Federación Panameña de Fútbol)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – It will be an all-Central American battle on Tuesday night, when Panama hosts Costa Rica in a fourth-round World Cup qualifier with the top spot in Group B at stake.
Both sides captured three points in their openers last Friday with Panama earning a 2-0 win at Jamaica, while Costa Rica edged visiting Haiti, 1-0, on a first-half goal by Cristian Gamboa.
In the sides’ last meeting on March 31, 2015, the Panamanians posted a 2-1 win at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez, site of Tuesday’s encounter. Head coach Hernan Dario Gomez feels good about his squad after an impressive performance in Kingston.
“Everything is normal with a lot tension and a lot of focus, very positive” said the 59-year-old, who guided the Canaleros to a third-place finish in July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. “We expect Panama to play very well, that Panama will be very concentrated and that Panama will work in order to win.”
Gomez, of course, is anticipating Costa Rica to ratchet it up a level from their friendly earlier this year and had high praise for the current version of the squad.
“It is an excellent team of good technique, with very good players and a lot of experience,” the Colombian noted. “I respect Costa Rica a lot. I admire them a lot, but they have their task and we have ours. This Costa Rica is better than the one at the World Cup.”
Panama’s last win over Costa Rica in a World Cup came on August 21, 1992. A 29th minute penalty kick by Rene Mendieta lifted it to a 1-0 triumph.