BRADENTON, Florida – The Central American Zone of Concacaf Women’s Championship Qualifying kicked with Panama and Costa Rica emerging as big winners on Monday at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Led by Karla Paola Riley’s brace, Panama topped Nicaragua 4-0 in the opening match.
Riley earned the Canaleras a good start with a fine right-footed strike in the 9’. Yomira Pinzon doubled the score in the 49’ with an excellent trap of the ball with her chest and then swinging a shot into net.
Riley struck for her second in the 68’ with a thumping header to extend the lead to 3-0, before Lineth Cedeno capped things off in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time with a strong finish.
Costa Rica also enjoyed a strong performance in its opening match, with an 11-0 victory against El Salvador.
The Ticas got a hat trick from Daphne Herrera (5’, 45+1’, 55’) and a brace from Shirly Cruz (19’, 21’). Also adding their names to the scoresheet were Katherine Alvarado (9’), Gloriana Villalobos (30’), Raquel Rodriguez (36’), Cristin Yorleny Granados Gomez 64’, Fabiola Villalobos (82’) and Maria Salas (84’).
There were still some positives for El Salvador, however, as GK Blanca Oneydi Lemus Cuellar produced the save of the day when she soared to her right to keep a Cruz header from crossing the line in the 21’.
All four teams return to action on Wednesday, with Costa Rica squaring off against Nicaragua and Panama taking on El Salvador.
After round-robin play, the top two finishers will qualify to the Concacaf Women’s Championship.
2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship
Dates: October 4-17, 2018
Venues: Sahlen’s Stadium (Cary, North Carolina), H-E-B Park (Edinburg, Texas) and Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Texas).
Teams: North America (3), Caribbean (3) and Central America (2)
Number of teams to qualify for the World Cup: 3 (Champion, runner-up and third place). The fourth place finished will dispute a home-and-away intercontinental playoff, with Argentina, the third-place finisher of CONMEBOL’s 2018 Women’s Copa America. The winner of the playoff will qualify to the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.