Hit by elimination, Panama close in on Canada

PANAMA (AP) — Panama continued to lament their painful World Cup elimination in Qatar.

After experiencing euphoria and remaining at least in knockout position until the penultimate three-game window of the CONCACAF octagonal final, Panama closed Wednesday’s game against qualifiers Canada with the sadness of having ruined his chances in the last games to make the trip again. at a World Cup event.

This time, the closing of the qualifiers will have no incentive for the Panamanians, as it happened in the previous two. Indeed, more than four years ago, the canaleros celebrated their first qualification for a World Cup, Russia 2018.

The 1-1 draw at home to bottom team Honduras on Thursday and Costa Rica’s 1-0 home win over Canada that day allowed the Costa Rican team to dislodge those led by the coach Danish-Spanish Thomas Christiansen from fourth place. . Then came the disaster of a 5-1 rout in the United States, which sealed the Panamanian elimination.

Costa Rica, who stumbled for much of the encounter, have bounced back in recent days and secured at least fourth place to qualify for a playoff game against rivals Oceania. It ends on Wednesday against the United States, whose even a defeat would ensure one of the two remaining direct tickets, since it arrives in San José with a difference of three points and with a large goal advantage over its rivals.

Passport-winning Canada reached the final game at the top of the standings with 28 points, three ahead of the United States and Mexico, tied at 25, and six ahead of Costa Rica (22) .

In Panama, meanwhile, it is difficult to shake off elimination and there is no shortage of recriminations against Christiansen, whose future in charge of the Central American team immediately became uncertain after the draw against the Hondurans and the beating against the Americans.

Christiansen went from praise for printing attacking football and possession to criticism for dropping important points at home that were sorely lacking in the end.

He cried after the beating in the United States and expressed his interest in continuing to lead Panama after qualifying.

“FEPAFUT (Panamanian Football Federation) already knows the situation. I have already expressed myself. I showed that I wanted to stay. Even my agents. My first option will be Panama,” Christiansen said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Captain Aníbal Godoy spoke in favor of Christiansen’s continuity after the elimination, although he admitted the team was devastated after the victory.

“Emotionally very difficult, we are going through a difficult time,” said the midfielder. “But we, as a group, decided to finish in the best way.”

Canada lands in Panama with the celebrations hungover on the surface after sealing their return to a World Cup on Sunday after a 36-year absence. The Canadians have everything in their favor to finish first in the octagon, even losing.

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