Panama boss Dely Valdes shifts focus: “We’re looking forward to this test”
“Jamaica are always strong, and they always play us tough,” Dely Valdes said about Panama´s next rival on June 30, 2019, at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

KANSAS CITY, Kansas -- Panama suffered its first loss at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup on Wednesday night in Kansas City. The narrow 1-0 defeat to the United States means that Panama will now go to the quarterfinals as the second-place team from Group D as opposed to the group winners. Panama will play Jamaica in the first knockout round. 

When asked if he had any regrets about the night, specifically in regard to the heavily-changed lineup he fielded, Panama Manager Julio Dely Valdes was straight to the point. 

“Absolutely not,” said Dely Valdes. “The U.S. did the exact same thing. I think we used common sense with this game and this lineup. I think you could also look at the fact that most all of our first-choice players will now have that extra rest, that extra time to recover for the big game against Jamaica.”

As he looked forward to the quarterfinals, Dely Valdes spoke of his respect for the two sides from Group C that made it to the next round. 

“For me, from what I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s much difference between Jamaica and Curacao,” the manager said. “I mean that in the best way. They are both really good teams playing good soccer at the moment. I don’t see it as us getting a tougher game because we finished second in our group. It was going to be tough either way.”

Dely Valdes ended by discussing his next opponent. 

“They are always strong, and they always play us tough,” he said of Jamaica. “I think the extra recovery for our guys is going to be key. We’re going to need all the energy and strength that we have. We’re looking forward to this test.

Panama and Jamaica will play Sunday night in Philadelphia, preceding the quarterfinal clash between the United States and Curacao.