Team Profile - Panama

17 May 2018 09:55:38 EST

Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez
Number of World Cup Appearances: 0
Best World Cup Performance: N/A
Number of World Cup Titles: 0
Qualifying Form: Fourth round - Played: 6, Won: 3, Drawn: 1, Lost: 2
Fifth round - Played: 10, Won: 3, Drawn: 4, Lost: 3
Overall - Played: 16, Won: 6, Drawn: 5, Lost: 5
Major Trophies: 0
Most Capped (current) Player: Gabriel Gomez
Key Player at World Cup 2018: Roman Torres

Lead-up to the Tournament:
Panama are still bathing in the glory of having secured a World Cup debut - Iceland will be the only other team playing in the finals for the first time this summer.

They did so despite winning just six of their 16 qualifiers, scoring only 16 times in the process.

They eventually secured their spot in Russia with just two minutes of their final qualifier to play - Roman Torres' winner against Costa Rica, coupled with a surprise loss for the United States, saw them finish third in the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying, ahead of both Honduras and the USA.

Reality has bitten a bit since October's heady history days though. Friendlies in November and March brought three defeats (to Iran, Denmark and Switzerland) and a draw (against Wales).

The 6-0 hammering to the Swiss in Lucerne will have been of real concern to Colombian manager Hernan Dario Gomez, who will be managing at his fourth World Cup, having previously guided his homeland (twice) and Ecuador to the finals.

Panama are 9/1 to qualify from Group G and are 1/16 to be eliminated at the group stage.

The Squad:
Gomez will take a highly-experienced squad to Russia - the players he took to Switzerland included no fewer than six with more than 100 caps.

One of those is defender Roman Torres. He is a national hero having scored the goal which took his nation to the finals, but he's better known for being Panama’s rock at the back and he’ll need to be at his best against the likes of Belgium and England in this group.

The same could be said of keeper Jaime Penedo, a rare member of the squad who plays in Europe - he's at Dinamo Bucharest.

In midfield, Gabriel Gomez, Panama's most-capped player, helps break up the play but, as the goals-for column in qualifying suggests, creative players are less obvious.

Alberto Quintero is widely regarded as one of the better ones, while striker Gabriel Torres top-scored in qualifying with three goals.

Fixtures:
18th June - Belgium, Fisht Stadium, Sochi
24th June - England, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhy Novgorod
28th June - Tunisia, Mordovia Arena, Saransk

Provisional Squad:
Goalkeepers: Jose Calderon, Jaime Penedo, Alex Rodríguez.

Defenders: Azmahar Ariano, Felipe Baloy, Harold Cummings, Eric Davis, Fidel Escobar, Adolfo Machado, Michael Murillo, Luis Ovalle, Francisco Palacios, Richard Peralta, Roman Torres.

Midfielders: Ricardo Avila, Edgar Barcenas, Ricardo Buitrago, Miguel Camargo, Adalberto Carrasquilla, Armando Cooper, Anibal Godoy, Gabriel Gomez, Jose Gonzalez, Cristian Martínez, Valentin Pimentel, Alberto Quintero, Jose Luis Rodríguez.

Forwards: Abdiel Arroyo, Rolando Blackburn, Ismael Diaz, Jose Fajardo, Roberto Nurse, Blas Perez, Luis Tejada, Gabriel Torres.

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