Goodridge: Panama want to make history against Brazil

18 Sep 2021
  • Panama need a miracle against old acquaintances Brazil on Sunday

  • The two sides met in the Round of 16 in 2012

  • Brazil won that game 16-0

When Panama made their FIFA Futsal World Cup™ debut at Thailand 2012, they defied expectations by reaching the knockout phase – an achievement indebted to their 8-3 win over Morocco.

Having qualified as one of the best third-placed teams, they found themselves up against a group winner in the Round of 16, and not just any group winner. Standing in their way were none other than mighty Brazil, who were about to bring the Panamanians back down to earth with a bump. The eventual champions ran out 16-0 victors, the biggest win of the tournament. “Our nerves got the better of us," Panama’s Claudio Goodridge told FIFA.com. "We wanted to do things our way and so we pressed them high up the court. They killed us.”

Football - FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012 - Brazil v Panama - Round of 16 - Nakhon Ratchasima - Korat Chatchai Hall - Thailand - 12/11/12.Actionshot, RAFAEL - Brazil scores a goal for his side under pressure from Claudio GOODRIDGE - Panama, adidas Board, FIFA Partners, Coca-Cola Board, Stadia Dressing.Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Matthew Childs

That match was the biggest in Panama’s futsal history, until now that is, with fate conspiring to bring the two sides together again on the final matchday in Group D at Lithuania 2021. While Brazil have already booked their place in the Round of 16, the Central Americans need a win to have any chance of advancing as one of the best four third-placed teams.

“Results have got to go our way in other groups,” said Goodridge, who plays for San Martin Futsal back home. “If we beat Brazil, we’ve got a chance to go through from third place, but only if there’s a winner in the Vietnam-Czech Republic match. It would be a miracle, and we’ll need to look at results in other groups and the amount of goals we would need to win by.”

Though the task looks almost impossible, Goodridge is not giving up hope: “It’s a huge game for us against one of the best teams in the world.” The 31-year-old is appearing at his third Futsal World Cup and is one of only three survivors in the current squad from Thailand 2012, the other two being Michael de Leon and Edgar Rivas, who missed the Brazil game through suspension.

“They beat us in 2012 and it feels to us like it’s a chance for revenge,” said Goodridge. “Together with the new boys making their World Cup debuts, us experienced players want to make history. We’re focused on this game and we want to beat Brazil.

“We’ve had a meeting, we’ve spoken and we’ve urged each other on. We’ve got a lot to win and very little to lose, and what better way show what we can do than against a big team like Brazil. If we put in a good performance, we can make history and take some satisfaction from this World Cup.”

One good reason for Panamanian optimism is that with first place all but secured for Brazil, coach Xavier Marquinhos may rest some of his star players. That said, the South Americans have some frightening talent in their squad, as Goodridge acknowledged. "It’s going to be so hard… Rodrigo distributing from the back and Dyego, Pito and Gadeia popping up on the wings," he said. "And then there’s Ferrao! He won their first two games virtually single-handedly. He gets the ball, turns and scores. He’s got a few goals like that.”

Goodridge has a plan, though: “With Ferrao, you’ve got to try to anticipate, make sure the ball doesn’t get to him and that Rodrigo can’t play those long passes down the middle. That’s what we’ve been working on for the last couple of days.”

There was more to Thailand 2012 for Panama than that big defeat. It was a platform for their future development, and nine years on they are determined to show that they belong on the big stage. “We’ve done a lot of work with the boss [Jose Botana],” said Goodridge. “2012 was our World Cup debut and we didn’t have much firepower. We play the game in a European way now and we’ve got more about us. We showed in our last two games that we can attack and create chances. We’ve just got to take them.”

Whatever happens on Sunday, the important thing for Panama on their third consecutive World Cup appearance is that they continue to develop. “Panama are making big strides with their futsal,” said Goodridge. “We’re something of a powerhouse now in the Concacaf Zone. We might only have three experienced players but with the new players that the boss is bringing through, we’ve got the best squad we’ve ever had at these three World Cups. We just need to make that final push here in Lithuania.”

His thoughts focused on the future, Goodridge signed off by saying: “We’ve maybe lacked a bit of confidence here in Lithuania and the pressure’s got to us, but I can see us sending a very strong team in 2024, a team that can make history. We just need to give them the belief.”

KLAIPEDA, LITHUANIA - SEPTEMBER 16: The Panama team line up prior to the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 group D match between Panama and Vietnam at Klaipeda Arena on September 16, 2021 in Klaipeda, Lithuania. (Photo by Tullio Puglia - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)