Active in qualifying since the road to the 1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina™, Panama have never featured at the showpiece event. However, they have twice reached the fourth and final round of CONCACAF qualification, a six-team group stage known as The Hexagonal. While they were never close to getting to Germany 2006 as they finished bottom of the pile, only an extraordinary home defeat by USA in their last fixture ahead of Brazil 2014 denied them a place in the intercontinental play-off.
Panama possess an experienced squad whose near miss last time out should fill them with the belief that they are capable of booking a berth at Russia 2018. With over 70 international goals between them, Blas Perez and Luis Tejada spearhead a pacy side that have what it takes to trouble the regional and continental powerhouses.
Appointed in early 2014, Colombian Hernan Dario Gomez is one of the most seasoned coaches on the CONCACAF scene. El Bolillo (The Truncheon), as he is nicknamed, has certainly hit home in World Cup qualifying before: he followed up guiding his native country to France 1998 by leading Ecuador to Korea/Japan 2002, the first time they had graced the tournament. Now he will be hoping to repeat the feat with Panama.
2 - Panama were beaten 3-2 by USA in their last Brazil 2014 qualifier after conceding two stoppage-time goals which ultimately cost them a spot in the intercontinental play-off.
The former stars
Rommel Fernandez, Jorge Dely Valdes, Julio Dely Valdes