Panama and Canada will meet in a key Group C match on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 9:05 PM EDT at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City. Canada won the “first leg” of this home-and-away series 1-0 in Toronto, now they must travel to Panama in the hopes of repeating the success it achieved in Toronto. Can Panama recover from the loss in Toronto, and take back the lead of Group C?
In three matches so far, Canada has been playing an effective style of defensive soccer that has not allowed a single goal. Although their offense isn’t spectacular (two goals in three matches), the defense has been superb, and definitely the deciding factor in their undefeated run.
Last Friday in Toronto, Canada played the same style of defensive soccer, effectively stopping all Panamanian advances. The match looked like it might have been headed to another 0-0 draw. However, quick thinking by Hutchinson, who crossed to ball towards an unmarked De Rosario for the goal, while the Panamanians were still arguing the ref’s call, allowed Canada to score what ended up being the game-winning goal. Panama was simply unable to answer back with a goal of their own.
After three matches in Group C, we have Canada with seven points, Panama with six, Honduras with four, and Cuba with none. Assuming Honduras wins at home against Cuba, this will thrust the Honduran squad to seven total points. If Canada is able to win at Panama, it would place them three points ahead of Honduras, and four ahead of Panama, placing them extremely close to the next round of the CONCACAF qualifiers.This is my prediction: if Canada defeats Panama on September 11, 2012, Canada will play in the hexagonal round of the CONCACAF qualifiers.
A draw or loss in Panama would leave Canada right in the middle of the fight of Group C, with the top three teams within one or two points of each other and just two games left to play. I’m sure the Canadians want to avoid any uncertainty and will be hoping to come out of Panama City with a win (realistically, it is likely that they are aiming for a tie).
Prediction: Canada will come with a defensive mindset, trying to exploit the counterattacking and free kick opportunities. Panama will be forced to go on to the attack, and attempt to crack the Canadian defense. In the end, I believe Panama will succeed at scoring, and take a slim, but important, win. The score will be Panama 1 – Canada 0. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a tie score (I’d be surprised if Canada won), as Panama struggled at home when Cuba came in and bunker-ed up, barely winning 1-0.
Television: The Panama vs Canada match will be shown on ESPN 3 and ESPN Deportes (in the USA) this Tuesday, September 11 at 9:05 PM Eastern.