Panama international Luis Tejada (white jersey) scored against Mexico in qualifying for the 2006 and 2014 FIFA World Cups. (Photo: Mexsport)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – After scoring the game-winning goal in Universitario’s season-opening victory over Union Comercio in Peru on Sunday, Panama international Luis Tejada wanted to maintain the positive vibes of an encouraging performance.
Before Universitario’s next scheduled game on September 9, Panama will contest a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Mexico (September 1, away) and Trinidad & Tobago (September 5, home).
As a result, Tejada and a pair of Peru-based Panama teammates – Ricardo Buitrago and Alberto Quintero -- flew home to start training together for the key Russia 2018 encounters.
“We are working because we did not want to stop the competitive rhythm that we were coming from,” said the 35-year-old forward.
Tejada is looking at the Mexico match as being key to the overall qualifying picture. The unbeaten Mexicans sit atop the CONCACAF Hexagonal table with 14 points from six games, while Panama occupies fourth place on seven points.
A win at the Estadio Azteca would be a tremendous boost to the Canaleros’ cause.
“We are going to play to win against an opponent that is practically already qualified,” Tejada remarked. “We have a lot to gain. We are playing for our lives there.
“It’s a six-point match. We have to be very concentrated. It is an opponent that knows its field well, but Panama has always had good games there.”
In their first Hexagonal meeting on November 15, 2016, Panama and visiting Mexico played to a scoreless draw.