Panama targets Group B title
Action from the CONCACAF Gold Cup game between Panama (white jersey) and the USA on July 8, 2017, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. (Photo: AFP)

TAMPA, Florida – The objective for Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez is crystal clear.

“I want first place in the group stage,” he said at a press conference Tuesday, one day before his side plays Group B rival Nicaragua in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Raymond James Stadium.

Nicaragua, however, will be desperate to get in the win column after falling 2-0 in its opener to Martinique, which tops the table on three points.  The Panamanians have a point thanks to a 1-1 draw with the United States.

“We’re going to play against a very strong team because Nicaragua needs to win tomorrow if they want to keep playing,” remarked Gomez.  “It’s football.  Some teams have a couple of chances in front of the goal, but the other team could go and score against you on their one opportunity.

“We’re going to try to have the best order, system and we’re going to try to win like they’re going to try to win.”

A win should put Panama on the road to the quarterfinals, but captain Gabriel Gomez knows that will not be easy.  His side is winless in its last seven Gold Cup games, including a remarkable six draws.

“The players know winning tomorrow practically puts us in the next round, but we have to play the games,” the veteran midfielder commented.  “These games are the most difficult, so we have to come on the field focused to try to win the game as fast as possible.”

In their only 2017 meeting, Panama earned a 2-1 win over Nicaragua in the Copa Centroamericana on goals by Roderick Miller (8’) and Josiel Nuñez (12’).