The Miraculous Story Behind Panama Battling to Enter the World Cup

Playing swamp soccer / Pixabay
Playing swamp soccer / Pixabay
Photo of Brittney Schering
22 March 2018

Panama had never made it to the World Cup until now. For the first time in history, Panama qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. To win their spot in the competition, they had to beat Costa Rica at home with hope that Trinidad and Tobago would do the same against USA. They all did.

Panamanian flag above Ancon Hill, Panama City | © Sailing Camelot

The Panamanian team, Los Canaleros, won the game that gave them fame within the final two minutes. Roman Torres made history for Panamanian football in that moment – history so grand the country declared the next day a new national holiday. Panamanians skipped work and school to celebrate in the streets with parades and drinks and everything symbolic of Panamanian pride.

The score at the end of the win on the fateful Tuesday night in Panama City was 2-1. Coach Dario Gomez celebrated the extraordinary victory with Roman Torres who kicked the winning goal after they beat Costa Rica.

Fireworks | © Elisha Terada / Unsplash

Torres wasn’t the only hero of the team’s collective historical win. Jaime Penedo, 35 years old, brought more than 100 caps for Panama as their rock-star goalkeeper. Felipe Baloy contributed as a versatile defender with contagious energy. Gabriel Gomez is the midfield orchestrator and tireless teammate with excellent vision who often set plays in motion. Hernan Dario Gomez had previous World Cup experience with Colombia and Ecuadar, and he used his history to help execute the strategy that ultimately sent Panama to the World Cup.

Panama has tried to qualify for every football World Cup since 1978. The country will take part in the worldwide 2018 competition that will begin in Russia in June. Panama will be the 13th different side from the CONCACAF Zone to ever participate in the World Cup.

Keep your eyes peeled for Panama to bring its winning spirit to the World Cup for the first time ever this June.

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