Monday, June 17 2013 @ 08:07 PM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Dropping their last match 2-0 to the United States, Panama could use as many points as possible in their upcoming match against Costa Rica. Through 5 qualifying matches in the hexagonal, the Panamanian national team holds a total of 6 points and currently sits in fifth place. While they continue to find a rhythm, Costa Rica currently owns the No. 2 spot in the group, two points behind the United States' total of 10. Winning their last match - a 1-0 victory over Honduras - Costa Rica can certainly pad their standing with an outright victory against Panama.
Costa Rica and Panama played to a 2-2 draw back in February so fans of the sport and followers of the respective teams should expect another tight match as both teams know how crucial each game becomes as qualifying continues.
When and Where to Watch the Qualifier
Resuming their respective qualifying schedules, Costa Rica and Panama will meet at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica on Tuesday, June 18th. The match will begin at 10:00pm and television coverage will be provided by the beIn Sports Network.
Team Preview - Panama
Panama will enter Tuesday night's match against Costa Rica coming off a 2-0 loss to the United States. Surrendering goals to Jozy Alitdore and Eddie Johnson proved to be to overwhelming for the Panamanian national team as their offense was never able to sustain consistent pressure. In their final match before a 2 1/2 month break, Panama needs to find offensive consistency if they're to remain in the hunt for a top 4 finish in CONCACAF.
Blas Perez and Luis Tejada lead the team in scoring through qualifying matches but the duo has received little help on that end of the field. The veteran Perez own 10 goals in 14 matches and when he becomes the focal point of opposing defenses, Panama needs to find other ways to move the ball and create goal-scoring opportunities. Facing a strong Costa Rican team on the road Tuesday night will be a tall order but Panama does possess the talent to compete if they can create offensive chances.
Tejada has added 5 goals in 11 total matches and if players such as Ricardo Buitrago and Luis Henriquez can provide additional support, Panama will have a better chance of taking down a Costa Rican team that has only allowed 1 goal in the last 4 matches. Henriquez started the early scoring in the February meeting between these two squads and if he and additional role players can find a rhythm, Panama should be in good shape.
Team Preview - Costa Rica
Trailing the United States by 2 points in the CONCACAF group, Costa Rica has an opportunity to remain in the hunt for the top spot if they can come away with a victory over Panama. Playing a tough 0-0 draw with Mexico the last time out, Costa Rica kept pace with a Mexican team they currently lead in a goal aggregate. With Honduras and Panama also within reach of the top slot, a win for the Costa Ricans would certainly aid them entering a two-month break before qualifying continues in September.
Alvaro Saborio and Joel Campbell are two players worthy of attention. In 11 matches played, Saborio leads all team scorers with 7 goals while Campbell continues to support with 2 goals of his own. Costa Rica is a team that continues to play well with strong defense, surrendering only 8 goals in 11 matches while notching 19 tallies of their own. The Panama team they'll face next has certainly struggled offensively as of late so if Costa Rica and players like Saborio, Campbell and Randall Brenes can perform well on the offensive end, Costa Rica can focus on stopping Panamanian phenom Blas Perez and his offensive capabilities.
With the potential to earn a crucial 3 points, Costa Rica and Panama are set for another showdown as WC qualifying continues. Be sure to catch all the action on Tuesday, June 18th at 10:00pm, EDT.