Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.- Panama Manager Julio Dely Valdes spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, and his pre-match press conference was all about having confidence in his side’s ability in the lead-up to Sunday’s 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal against Jamaica at Lincoln Financial Field.
“Like I’ve said before,” Dely Valdes began, “I have a great deal of respect for this Jamaica team, and we know what we have to do to win this game.”
Panama struggled in pre-tournament friendlies against strong South American opposition, losing 3-0 to Colombia and Uruguay earlier this month. The rebound in form had to be swift, and Panama proceeded to win its first two matches in the Gold Cup, 2-0 over Trinidad and Tobago and 4-2 against Guyana.
That was followed by a tightly contested 1-0 loss to the United States, dropping Panama into second-place in Group D, the six points enough to help the side progress to the first knockout round.
“We have been improving as the tournament has progressed,” the manager said. “We played important friendlies before the competition, and we are no longer seeing some of the mistakes that we saw in those games. We have been improving as a team and we are confident in ourselves.”
After his opening comments, Dely Valdes was asked a few more times about Sunday’s opponent, and what Jamaica is going to bring to the table.
“Honestly, I care more about what our team is doing than what Jamaica is doing,” Dely Valdes said. “We’ve seen what we need to see and have gotten ourselves prepared. Now it’s about us being ready when the game starts on Sunday.”
Panama’s quarterfinal clash with Jamaica kicks off at 5:30 ET on Sunday night.