By Samindra Kunti in New Jersey
June 29 – On Friday, Panama and Martinique will battle for top spot and qualification in Group C of the Gold Cup with Los Canaleros firm favourites after their opening-match win against Costa Rica and their recent record against the Caribbean side.Under Danish coach Thomas Christiansen Panama have become a mainstay in the Central American region, evolving with a solid backline and enough firepower up front. In the recent Nations League, they took four points from their two games against Martinique. The match in Fort-de-France was a goalless draw.
Christiansen downplayed his own role in Panama’s recent success when asked whether there was a need for more European coaches.
“I don’t know if there is an opening for European coaches to come to our region but we are all results-focused,” said Christiansen at a news conference.
“If things go well people are happy and say it’s a breath of fresh air, a new set of ideas but if you don’t then they’ll say the opposite – why search elsewhere if what we have at home is better? I can only feel glad that things are going well for Panama.”
“At Martinique, we tied zero. It was a difficult match. We’re facing a good team and having seen Martinique’s match against El Salvador we know their strengths and weaknesses and so we have to play at our highest level if we don’t want to have any surprises.”
Panama’s coach Marc Colat happily maintained his side’s underdog role, even following a stellar win against El Salvador, playing the last half hour with a man down, but emphasised that ultimately even defeat at the hands of Christiansen’s team would not be too dramatic.
“It is one of the four strongest teams in Concacaf,” said Colat. “The victory against El Salvador has given us two opportunities to qualify. If it doesn’t work out against Panama, we will get a final against Costa Rica. The hardest of the two games will be against Panama. We will go all out, to get at least one point.”
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