Nicaragua’s Barrera on facing Panama: “We’re playing for our lives”
11Nicaragua head Henry Duarte (left) and attacker Juan Barrera answer questions at a CONCACAF Gold Cup press conference on July , 2017, in Tampa, Florida, USA. (Photo: AFP)

TAMPA, Florida – Eager for a positive result after a 2-0 loss to Martinique on Saturday in his team's 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup opener, Nicaragua coach Henry Durate welcomes Juan Barrera and Daniel Cadena back with open arms ahead of Wednesday’s critical showdown with Panama.

“Both will give a lot to this team to give us confidence,” said Durate at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference at Raymond James Stadium.  “We’ll have a strong and aggressive team and overall we’ll be able to go forward and take chances.  The only way we can stay alive in this cup is to take chances and we’re going to do that.”

Barrera and Cadena, who will both be in the starting XI, were suspended for the Martinique encounter, as was Duarte.

The presence of Barrera will provide a huge lift.  He was the hero of the Gold Cup qualifying playoff, striking for three goals in the last 10 minutes of a 3-0 win over Haiti in the second leg, giving the Pinoleros an improbable 4-3 aggregate triumph.

“The way he plays, he takes the team forward and gives the team a lot of confidence,” Durate expressed. “He has a specific way of playing and it motivates our players.”

It was difficult for Barrera to watch his team struggle against Martinique, but he’s excited to get on the field.

“I’m very emotional and motivated to take part in [the Gold Cup],” said Barrera, who appeared in three matches – all as a substitute -- at the 2009 Gold Cup.  “I couldn’t be there the first game, but this game coming up I’m going to give everything the same way I do every game with the national team.  I’m going to play the best way possible, the same way the next game. We’re going to hope we can get a positive result.

“We’re playing for our lives.”