FRISCO, Texas -- The Panama women's national team is close to duplicating what their men's side accomplished last year.
Only year and a day after the men qualified for their first FIFA World Cup, the women took a giant stride toward reaching their initial world championship as well.
Los Canaleros defeated favored Mexico, 2-0, on the final day of Group A matches on Thursday to reach the semifinals for the first time and a chance to book a spot at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France.
Their men's squad booked its spot in Russia behind a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on October 10, 2017.
Costa Rica is the lone Central American country to qualify for the Women's World Cup (Canada 2015).
The Panamanians opened with a 3-0 triumph over Trinidad & Tobago and dropped a 5-0 decision to the defending world champion United States before the historic Mexican result.
The Central Americans, No. 66 in FIFA's ranking, will face their biggest test when they meet No. 5 Canada at Toyota Stadium on Sunday. The winner will earn a ticket to France, the loser will get a second opportunity to clinch a spot in Wednesday's third-place match against the loser United States-Jamaica semifinal. The fourth-place team will have one more opportunity to reach France, playing Argentina in two-leg intercontinental playoff for the final spot.
Panama's most influential player has been its 17-year-old goalkeeper named Yenith Bailey, who has saved countless goals with several spectacular saves.
Of the four semifinalists, Panama has scored the least amount of goals (five), but those have been timely. Marta Cox, Kenia Rangel and Erika Hernandez tallied vs. T&T while Karla Riley and Lineth Cedeno found the range against Mexico.