Saint Paul, Minnesota.- When asked during Monday’s pre-game press conference before his team’s 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup opener versus the United about what he enjoys the most about a new tournament, Panama Manager Julio Dely Valdes had quite the straightforward answer.
“My favorite part about a new tournament,” said Dely Valdes, “is winning.”
The former Panama star player, now in his third stint as coach of the national team, elaborated on the importance of that winning spirit.
“I say that winning is my favorite part because in a short tournament like this one, you have to have that mentality from the first game.”
“But it also doesn’t stop there,” Dely Valdes continued. “We know we have two more games in this group, and we need to take each one as a new challenge.”
Panama will open up Group D play on Tuesday night at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minnesota taking on Trinidad and Tobago, who make its return to Gold Cup action after missing out on the tournament in 2017.
As one of the most experienced squads in the competition, Panama will look to show its true veteran poise against a youthful and hungry Trinidad and Tobago team, the same nation Panama knocked out of the Gold Cup on penalties in 2015, after a 1-1 scoreline in that quarterfinal affair.
“I agree with their manager,” Dely Valdes said, speaking of Dennis Lawrence’s words on the similarities between the two teams. “I think we are two similar sides who can give one another a real test. Both teams are very physically strong, and I know it will be a game where staying mentally strong will be key.”
Panama’s match with Trinidad and Tobago will kick off Tuesday night at 7:30 ET, to be followed by the United States vs. Guyana at 10 ET.