The 2018 World Cup in Russia starts on June 14th, and some teams are still being put together. However, that’s not stopping the Highlander from breaking down every group to give you a comprehensive overview leading up to the first kickoff.
Group G, Part II
FIFA Ranking: 55
World Cup Appearances: 1
First Appearance: 2018
Last Appearance: 2018
Best result: TBA
Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez (Colombian), since 2014. Previously coached Ecuador (2010-11)
Players to watch:
The 35-year-old has become a cult hero for Panama’s national team, holding the title as his country’s all-time leading goal scorer with a whopping 43 goals in 104 international appearances. Over the course of his long career, Tejada has represented 19 clubs and currently plays for Panamanian club Sport Boys. Panama will most likely struggle to dictate the tempo of the games, so Tejada will need to be sharp in front of goal in the three group stage matches if his side is going to be able to sneak into the round of 16. However, if there is anyone in this team that could lead from the front, it is Tejada.
Panama would not even be a part of this conversation if it wasn’t for the 32-year-old Seattle center back’s 87th minute goal against Costa Rica. Torres stands at 6’2, 183 lbs. and has the physical build of a tank. If Panama is going to pull off the impossible and make it out of this group, Torres will have to put together some stellar performances in the back. He was a key part of a Seattle Sounders side that made two MLS Cups in a row, and has been a leader for the Panamanian national team as well. If Torres is able to solidify the back line, Panama could become the surprise of the summer.
Potential lineup: Penedo – Ovalle, Torres, Baloy, Machado – Quintero, Gomez, Godoy, Cooper – Tejada, Torres
Prediction: 4th in group, eliminated in group stage
Vs. Belgium 06/18
Vs. England 06/23
Vs. Tunisia 06/28