June 27 – Panama’s painful World Cup qualification defeat to Costa Rica is still a source of motivation for the country, said manager Thomas Christiansen.
En route to the global finals in Qatar, Costa Rica defeated the Panamanians 1-0 in San José and it is a defeat that still stings, despite his team beating Los Ticos twice in the Nations League and again on Monday in the Gold Cup.
“The qualifier for the World Cup still hurts,” said Christiansen. “Not only me, but also the players. We always think about that. That could be an extra motivation for the players. I don’t believe that we are superior or better than Costa Rica, they qualified for the World Cup.”
But the Dane said that his team have taken steps forward from a tactical point of view. Playing in a 4-5-1 formation against Costa Rica, Panama were in control to get their Gold Cup campaign underway with three important points.
“The team is evolving,” explained Christiansen. “With the line of five, there are some things that are more solid in our game movement. The players know what to do. They are fighting, they are doing their best. We tried to break the lines of Costa Rica, to create more doubts in the defensive line, and to generate those opportunities with patience.”
On Friday, Panama and Christiansen can clinch qualification for the quarter-finals or at least take a major step toward the knockout phase when they encounter Martinique, who upset El Salvador 2-1, a result that did not surprise him.
“They played very well, organised, but it was not a surprise,” said the Panama manager. “In the Nations League, we faced them twice. We had a draw, 0-0. It was a difficult game. Costa Rica also had some difficulties against them. We cannot underestimate the other opponents. The coach has done a great job. We have seen the result. This is not a coincidence.”
“We have won three very important points, the start in a tournament is very important, but we have great potential and great material to continue growing.”
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