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Wednesday, August 27 2014 @ 07:07 AM EDT

Panama Beats Nicaragua 5-1; Advances To Third Round

Sports Section#Panama - By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - The Panama Men's National Soccer team beat Nicaragua 5-1 last night at the Rommel Fernández stadium in Panama City. With this win Panama now has three victories and nine points with only one game remaining, securing their advancement to the third round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Panama was the first of the 24 teams competing in the second round of qualifying to guarantee their spot in the third round. Only six will advance and eighteen will be eliminated, and now for sure Nicaragua and Dominica are, while Panama advances. A total of twelve teams will participate in the third round - the six who survived the second round, and the six teams granted byes thanks to their world rankings (USA, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Cuba.) Panama has only one game remaining in the second round, at home against Dominica on 15 November 2011.

Panamanian Luis Tejada (C) shoots to score against Nicaragua during their Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup Concacaf qualifiers match held at the Rommel Fernandez stadium in Panama City on October 11, 2011. AFP Photo/Rodrigo ARANGUA.

On To The Third Round: The third round games will be played from 8 June to 16 October 2012. Panama will be in Group C with Cuba, Honduras, and probably Canada (yet to be defined.) This works out to be an excellent scenario for Panama, because they dodge having to play the higher ranked teams in the third round: the United States (19), Mexico (27), Jamaica (48), and Costa Rica (53). Instead, thanks to the luck of the draw, Panama (68) was grouped with Honduras (38 - the weakest "pot 1" team), Cuba (64 - the weakest "pot 2" team), and probably Canada (84). So, in the third round Panama will play against these three teams, one home game and one away. The winner and runner up from each group will advance to the fourth round, while the third and fourth place teams from each group will be eliminated. And clearly, Panama can beat any of the teams in their Group, both at home and on the road.

About Last Night's Game: It was a straight-out butt whipping. Most of the Panamanian players are these big, tall, fast, and strong black guys with lots of speed and skills. The Nicaraguan players were these short little Indian dudes, and it really wasn't much of a match from the start. I'm not being racist here - when you look at the photos from the game, the tops of the heads of the Nicaraguan players come to about the middle of the chests of the Panamanian players. That matters (a lot) when you're leaping into the air to head a corner kick into the back of the net. Panama cashed in on every mistake and bad pass the Nicaraguans made. The entire game was played in front of the Nicaraguan goal. At the very end of the game Nicaragua managed to "steal" one goal, because in fact by then the Panamanian team had let down their guard and they were actually still celebrating the 5th goal they had just scored. It was a totally and completely lop-sided match - not much of a contest at all. And it should have been 6-1, if Panama had not blown an early penalty kick. The Panamanian team looked very good - or maybe they just looked good because their opponents sucked. Either way, it was another mark in the "win" column and they punched their ticket to advance. If Panama does end up qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup - then that will be a first. Panama has never been to the "big dance" and this time around might be their turn. Without a doubt after last night, they are pumped up and ready to keep going.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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