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Saturday, August 30 2014 @ 04:31 PM EDT

Panama Beat Canada 2-0 Last Night, Retake First Place In Group C

Sports SectionThe coach of Panama's National Men's soccer team Julio Dely Valdes said after the 2-0 win over Canada that "it was very important to win" this game, and he praised "the great work" of his players, who erased a 1-0 loss last Friday to the Canadians in Toronto. "The truth is that it was very important to win, which has been achieved, the players have done a great job, it was a great effort, I think that was the end of 180 minutes, the first 90 minutes we lost, but I think in the global in both games, Panama has been higher than Canada," said Panamanian coach.

He defended in a press conference his strategy on the field, for changing Anibal Godoy, Yairo Yau and Nelson Barahona, while leaving the international center forward Luis Tejada on the field. "First we wanted to get fresh people in the game, and then those who I put in were people with ability, as they have shown," he said.

However, he ruled that this endangers the permanence of Tejada in the national team and explained that he develops his lineup strategy in response to the opponent facing them, and he warned that on 10 October 2012 when Honduras comes to play here in Panama, they "will not be the same opponents" they faced during the first leg.

About his pupils, he added "they have shown throughout this process, they have important matches to be known, and it was further evidence today, and well, they've done well." Panama regained the lead in Group C of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), which gives two spots in the final round on the road to the Brazil 2014 World Cup, which classifies three countries of the region and the fourth will go to a playoff with Oceania. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: Right now there are twelve teams still alive in the third round of qualification play. Of these twelve, six will move forward to the fourth and final round, and six will be eliminated. In the final round, the top three advance. The team that is in fourth place after the fourth round of play will have to compete for the final spot against whoever wins Oceania (New Zealand). The bottom two teams in the fourth round will be eliminated.

Panama is in very good shape right now, with three win and nine points, sitting alone in first place of Group C. They have played four games and won three. Panama beat Honduras in Tegucigalpa, and both Canada and Cuba in Panama City. They lost against Canada in Toronto last Friday, and in that game they really played well enough to come away with a tie, if it wasn't for a two second lapse of attention. On 12 October Panama will play Honduras in Panama City, and then the final game will be on 16 October against Cuba in Havana. Panama can lock in their qualification for the fourth round if they beat Honduras on 12 October, or if they tie Honduras and if Canada does not beat Cuba in their game on the same day.

Of the other teams in Group C - Honduras has the hardest remaining schedule with games against Panama and Canada. They have already gotten their cheap six points from two wins against Cuba. Both Panama and Canada still have to play Cuba one more time. This means Canada has a better chance of ending up in second place in Group C than Honduras.

In the other groups, Group A is tight. Three teams, the United States, Guatemala, and Jamaica all have seven points. The future looks best for the United States and Jamaica who both still have a game left against the group's dog Antigua and Barbuda, and tougher for Guatemala who has two games left, one against Jamaica at home and then their final game against the United States in Kansas.

In Group B Mexico has qualified with four wins and 12 points. The fight is over the second spot in that group between El Salvador (5 points) and Costa Rica (4 points).

For the Hex: Right now it looks like the United States, Jamaica, Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, and Canada are the six teams with the best chances of advancing to the fourth round, called the "Hex" (six teams). These six teams will play a head to head tournament of home and away games, with the matches scheduled to be played from 6 February to 15 October 2013. Of those teams Panama can beat Jamaica, El Salvador, and Canada outright, either on the road or at home. They will be playing for ties against the United States and Mexico, with better chances at home than on the road. What matters is - they're still in the hunt. Panama has never (ever) qualified for a FIFA World Cup, and this time around they can taste it...

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