Panama expects tough test in El Salvador

Action from the Central American Cup's match for third place between Panama (red jersey) and El Salvador on September 13, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Mexsport)

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Panama head coach Hernán Darío Gómez is expecting a challenge when his side visits El Salvador for a friendly on Friday at the Estadio Cuscatlan.

According to FIFA records, it will be the 42nd all-time meeting between the Central American rivals.

“It is not a friendly at all against El Salvador, so that is how I see it,” said Gómez.  “The Cuscatlán is a very difficult place.  I have been there already when I managed Guatemala.  We are going there with the intention of getting a good result because we are a strong team.”

The Colombian acknowledged that he is seeking increased consistency in Panama’s play.  The Canaleros went unbeaten in September’s Central American (2-1-0), drawing with eventual champion and World Cup quarterfinalist Costa Rica, before beating Nicaragua (2-0) and the Salvadorans (1-0) in the match for third place. 

“We are good for a while and then bad for a while,” Gómez noted.  “We are still not in the condition to have a regular playing condition.” 

Last month, the Canaleros dropped a narrow 1-0 decision at Mexico, conceding a late goal to Erick Torres.  As a result, Gomez admitted there will be changes.

“In the Mexico game, we lacked the eagerness to win,” expressed the 58-year-old.  “For that reason, I made several changes.  There are players who I consider are very important for the team, that is why I call them.  Little by little we are refreshing the team, but we have not closed the door on anyone.  The players know who did well or poorly during the matches.  I believe in the players.”