Gomez leads fearless Panama into Mexico test

Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez (pictured) meets with the media at a CONCACAF Gold Cup press conference on July 21, 2015, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (Photo: Mexsport)

ATLANTA – Speaking to a room full of journalists on the eve of Panama’s semifinal showdown with Mexico, head coach Hernan Dario Gomez expressed confidence that his team could advance to its second straight Gold Cup final.

“We’re not afraid to take on Mexico,” said Gomez on Tuesday. “We are a team with important players and we know how to play in these types of matches. I don’t think it would be a surprise if we won, honestly. This is a great opportunity. We are in a position to have real success.”

That steadfast belief stems in large part from his team’s recent stream of Gold Cup prosperity. The Panamanians have advanced to the semifinals of the last two Gold Cups. In 2013, they defeated the Mexicans twice, including a 2-1 semifinal victory, before falling 1-0 to the United States in the tournament decider.

Flush with experience and talent, Gomez also spoke clearly of his desire to impose Panama’s style on the six-time champion. 

“We want to establish ourselves early,” said the former Colombia manager. “Panama has technical ability and the desire to possess the ball. While Mexico is similar in that they are also a technical team, which likes to impose a certain style of play on their opposition, we can take confidence from having had success in instituting our approach against them before.”

Never short on self-assurance, the 59-year-old was also quick to assert that his side has found level footing with CONCACAF’s biggest teams.

“There is a saying that it is easier to scare people from far away than in it is up close.” he remarked. “What that means is that there was a time in the past where we didn’t have much scouting or information on other teams and players. Now, everyone is a known quantity. Many of the players now compete against each other in leagues around the world. Fear is lessened with that type of interaction. We now know that we do not need to be scared of anyone.”

While remaining upbeat about his team’s chances, Gomez also took time to pay respect to Mexico, acknowledging that under manager Miguel Herrera, the Tricolor is still one of the world’s best teams. 

“Mexico is a very technical side,” Gomez concluded. “They have gifted players and come from a country with great infrastructure. We know how good they can be. We are both deserving teams and now we will go play against each other in front of millions of people around the world. We’re ready.”