Panama – Real Madrid Coming
Like Baloy, Guimaraes is also convinced that Panama can make history b\ reaching their first FIFA World Cup finals. “I came here with the goal of taking Panama to South Africa,” he says. “What I have seen so far has made me even more confident that we can do it.” Baloy, meanwhile, believes chat the secret to qualifying may all be in the mind: “If we players really believe in ourselves, we can definitely qualify.”
Panama will have an early test of their World Cup credentials because they have been drawn to play the winner of the F.I Salvador v. Anguilla tie in the second round in June. While Panama are fully expecting to meet El Salvador, a ream that reached the 1982 FIFA World Cup finals, no Panamanian expects the team that has made the most progress in the CONCACAF zone in recent years to be knocked off the road to South Africa at such an early stage. They firmly believe that the national team is far too solid and far too well balanced, both physically and technically, for that. Even President Martin Torrijos is a staunch supporter ot a team that has been built around goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (Municipal, Guatemala), striker Bias Perez (Hercules, Spain), Jorge “El Pistolero” Garces (CSKA Sofia, Bulgaria) and Baloy. Torrijos is a keen football fan and names his favourite team as Real Madrid. During a recent visit to the Spanish capital, where he also met Real Madrid President Ramon Calderon, Torrijos even successfully persuaded him to bring his star players to Panama City for the opening of the new Rommel Fernandez stadium later this year.
Yet more proof that Panamanian football is now Heine, taken seriously.