World Cup 2018: 3 things that Panama did right on their debut
The scoreline reflected a 3-0 defeat for Panama, but it will also be remembered as the day Panama made their debut in the World Cup.
As Edgar Carvajal, the assistant manager of Panama put it, when Panama qualified for the World Cup, 2018 that it was “like something handed down by God”. The circumstances could be attributed to divine intervention after Panama qualified for the World Cup, 2018 as other results played out in their favour, while they qualified by the skin of their teeth. As the US lost their penultimate fixture and Panama won theirs, history was made as Panama becomes the latest debutants from the CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) region.
Over the years, Panama as a nation has acquired infamy for it being a tax haven. But in Russia, 2018 the name of Panama will reverberate across stadiums for the football it displays and the hearts it wins. While it is difficult to name any known faces, it was interesting to see how they lined up against Belgium, one of the tournament favourites.
Given the fact, that a majority of the favourites had their rugs pulled from beneath their feet over the course of the weekend, it was no surprise to see Belgium start the game in an apprehensive manner. And that in itself is a testament to the manner in which the underdogs have lit up this World Cup.
#3 Underdog Panama put up a dogged defensive display
For any neutrals switching on the match on Monday evening or for new viewers of football, the match between these two teams must have been a pretty ordinary game. In fact, for some, it may have been a waste of time. But for those who know the history of the Belgium team and the fact how famous their current squad is, it must have been an exasperating game to watch.
Torres, the Panama captain playing at centre-half led from the front (ironical word-play) as he hacked and tackled the threats of the Belgium attacks.
The script though changed after the commencement of the second half as Belgium finally found the space to exploit. Having conceded early on in the second half coupled with the 5 bookings, Panama seemed to lose their venom.
And Belgium were quick to take advantage as first De Bruyne and then Hazard teed up Lukaku to triple the advantage in double quick time. Although Panama seemed to tire, they still held their shape and to be fair gave an excellent account of themselves when it comes to organization.