The road Colombia
Panama qualified for Colombia 2016 after finishing runners-up at the 2016 CONCACAF Futsal Championship – their best performance to date in the regional event. Los Canaleros enjoyed comfortable wins over Guatemala (4-1) and Honduras (10-3) but had to overcome a two-goal deficit to see off Mexico (4-3) and secure top spot in Group B – and with it a ticket to Colombia. A draining (6-5) victory over Cuba in the semis came at a price, however, with Panama running out of steam in the decider against Costa Rica (4-0), the only qualifying game in which they failed to score .
Strengths and style
Much of the credit for Panama’s recent success must go to coach Agustin Campuzano Lopez. A member of the Cuba coaching staff at Spain 1996, Guatemala 2000 and Chinese Taipei 2004, his appointment as national team coach has transformed Panamanian futsal. After leading the team to Thailand four years ago, where he gave debuts the likes of Claudio Goodrige and Fernando Mena, Lopez is back for a second crack and determined to do even better this time around. Among this year’s relative novices, goalkeeper Daniel Atencio stands out after his peerless displays at the CONCACAF Championship earned him the Best Goalkeeper award.
FIFA Futsal World Cup record
Colombia 2016 will be Panama’s second appearance on the futsal world stage, after debuting four years ago in Thailand. There they surpassed expectations with an 8-3 group-phase triumph over Morocco that earned them a Round-of-16 berth as one of the four best third-place sides. As expected, eventual champions Brazil proved way too strong in the knockout phase, ending their adventure with a 16-0 rout.