You wait 4 long years for another World Cup and all of a sudden it feels like it’s just around the corner. In preparation for Russia 2018 we’re launching our Get to Know series, exploring some of the more obscure teams and introducing you to their star players. That way, on days when your top teams aren’t playing, you can still partake in some DFS action—utilising your rather impressive knowledge of some of the lesser known teams. There may even be some fun country facts thrown in too!
We know what you’re thinking: daily fantasy tips and a geography lesson?! You. Are. Welcome.
We’re going to kick things off with one of the teams who are enjoying their first ever shot at World Cup glory. Without further ado, let’s get to know… Panama!
Location: Central America, sandwiched between Costa Rica and Colombia
Capital City: Panama City
Official Language: Spanish
Famous for: The Panama Canal—a waterway connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic, making it a key international trade route.
Fun Fact: Panama is the only place in the world where you can watch the sun rise on the Pacific and set on the Atlantic.
Road to the World Cup
Panama didn’t exactly have a straight path to victory. Their qualifiers included a 4-0 defeat to the USA and a lot of draws. Nevertheless, they kept their faith and saved all the drama for the latter stages. After achieving (yet another) draw with Honduras, the team beat Trinidad and Tobago, setting up a final showdown with Costa Rica.
The game was not without controversy. Panama’s first goal barely (if at all) crossed the line. As the USA were simultaneously losing their match against Trinidad and Tobago, Panama just needed to take the currently 1-1 game to a win to qualify. In the final 2 minutes, Roman Torres achieved just that. There was no confusion about this goal—it was pretty spectacular:
Securing a place in their first World Cup is a very big deal for Panama. In fact, the nation declared a public holiday to mark the achievement.
Players to Watch
One of the most famous Panama players, it was Torres whose goal sent the team to the World Cup. He’s actually a central defender and plays for the Seattle Sounders in the USA. With a long career in the national team, Torres is a good all-rounder and is likely to play a key part in leading the team.
Godoy is a solid midfielder. When he’s not representing his country, he plays for the San Jose Earthquakes in California. With a number of player awards under his belt, look out for him aiding the defense and assisting goals.
As one of the all-time leading goal scorers for the Panama team Perez is a formidable striker. He’s moved around quite a bit in his club career, but currently plays for Guatemalan team Municipal. Panama may be the underdogs, but they’ll be looking to Perez to get them on the scoresheet.
Playing alongside teammate Perez for Municipal, in his international career Baloy is the team captain. He’s a strong defender who will obviously play an integral part in rallying the team and keeping them focused on victory in 2018.
FIFA Ranking: 56
Manager: Hernan Dario Gomez
Panama have been lucky enough to land in the same group as us! England will therefore be one of the first teams to meet them in the competition.
What They Have Going for Them
- Everyone loves an underdog, so Panama may be able to win the support of other fans whose teams aren’t playing on certain days. There’s nothing like a screaming crowd to fire up a team. Plus, they’ll have their own supporters who are likely to be extra enthusiastic as this is their first World Cup experience.
- They’ve done pretty well in terms of the group draw—managing to avoid the top teams. No disrespect to our home nation but, let’s be honest, you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to England!
We’ll certainly be keeping our eyes peeled to see how this proud nation handles its first World Cup adventure. Buena suerte!
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