Posted on February 4, 2013
Panama striker Blas Perez is confident entering the first match of the CONCACAF hexagonal of World Cup qualifying. Los Canaleros will host Costa Rica in Panama City on Wednesday.
“We work hard, very hard,” Perez said in a recent interview wwth FIFA.com. “There’s a union, a harmony in this Panama team. We don’t fight with each other, we’re not greedy, and when we enter the pitch, we do it as one. Our solidarity is our strength.”
The 31-year-old Perez, who performs for FC Dallas in Major League Soccer, is playing in his third and most likely last World Cup qualifying campaign as Panama tries to book its first spot in the World Cup.
The Panamanians stumbled out of the gate during 2010 qualifying, losing to El Salvador. But the past is the past, Perez said.
“We have a different mentality now,” he was quoted by FIFA.com. “We believe in ourselves and we have a lot of veterans, like myself, who can help show the way to the younger ones.”
Panama finished second to Honduras in the Group C semifinal round, but international soccer has been on the rise in the Central American country the last several years.
Los Canaleros stunned the United States in a group match at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, becoming the first team to defeat the Americans on their own soil in the first round of the competition. Panama did not put on a display of beautiful soccer that night in Tampa, Fla., but the gritty side registered a 2-1 win.
In many quarters, this Panama team is considered the best national side to come out of the Central American country.
“Now is our best chance of qualifying for a World Cup,” Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes said.
It could be now or never.
Photo: Blas Perez, after missing a scoring chance in an international match, is a lot more optimistic for Panama’s chances in this round of World Cup qualifying. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: Central America, Costa Rica, Panama, World Cup Qualifying
Tags: Blas Perez, CONCACAF Gold Cup, FC Dallas, FIFA.com, Julio Dely Valdes, Los Canaleros, Major League Soccer, World Cup qualifying