Panama looks forward to Trinidad, Costa Rica tests

Harold Cummings (pictured) is on Panama's roster for March friendlies against Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica. (Photo: Mexsport)

PANAMA CITY, Panama – With friendlies against fellow CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica slated for the next week, Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez knows that his team will be challenged.

The Canaleros will visit the Caribbean runner-up on Friday, before hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalist on March 31.

According to FIFA records, Trinidad leads the all-time series, holding a 7-3 advantage in wins from 13 previous encounters.  Panama, however, won their last meeting, 3-0, on September 7, 2010.

“Everyone knows that matches in Trinidad are tough and difficult,” said Gomez.  “Trinidad is a strong team, fast and makes you uncomfortable.”

While Costa Rica has registered 22 victories in 40 outings against Panama, the sides battled to a 2-2 draw in the Central American Cup last September.

“Costa Rica is one of the best teams in the world you could say after they finished eighth at the World Cup and is welcomed to play here at our place,” the 59-year-old Colombian continued.  “We have 20 players in good condition and armed to give their best effort and we want to win.”

Gomez does not plan on varying his starting line-ups over the two matches.

“There are places that are up for grabs,” he remarked.  “In the first game against Trinidad & Tobago, I have it clear who I am going put in and, in the other match, I think there may be one change or another, but there is not going to be a lot of variety for the moment.”

While Gomez would like to post a pair of wins, he emphasized longer-term objectives.

“I prefer to beat Costa Rica in the Gold Cup and also in qualifiers, but I also want to win always,” finished the former Colombia, Ecuador and Guatemala manager.  “We all want to win.  It’s logical.  No one is going to distract me from my objective, which is to make the World Cup.”