Panama international Roman Torres (pictured) returned to action recently after recovering from a knee injury that kept him out for nearly a year. (Photo: Mexsport)
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – After being out for nearly a full year with an ACL injury, Roman Torres returned to action on August 28, as his Seattle Sounders fell 4-2 to the Portland Timbers.
Now, the 30-year-old defender is in the Panama squad for Friday’s key fourth-round World Cup qualifier against visiting Jamaica at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez. The host (2W-1D-1L, 7 points), which occupies second place in Group B, will secure a spot in the CONCACAF Hexagonal with a win.
Torres realizes that the Panamanians can’t afford to be overawed by the occasion and get tripped up by a side that is full of quality, one that reached the final of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Patience, for each of the 90 minutes, is the essential requirement.
“We have to manage the anxiety,” said Torres from the team’s training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We know that we are going to be in Panama. The people are going to be into the game.
“There will be desperation if the goal doesn’t come, so I think that we have to have a lot of concentration. We have to be alert and play the way we have been trained. It is important that the forwards we have score. With the line of four at the back, we have to keep a clean sheet.”
In their first meeting on November 13, 2015, Panama earned a 2-0 win in Kingston on an Armando Cooper strike in the first half and an own-goal by Wes Morgan seven minutes after the break. Despite that road victory, Torres said that Panama will not underestimate Jamaica in any way.
“We know that Jamaica is a difficult opponent,” he finished. “They have good players, important players, fast players. So like I said, we have to have a lot of concentration, a lot of order, with ball possession, implementing what we’ve worked on and being at home is going to be important.”
Panama’s previous two World Cup qualifiers at home against Jamaica ended in draws: 0-0 on September 6, 2013 and 1-1 on October 9, 2004.