Players to watch: Blas Perez is one of Panama’s most accomplished players and has been a prolific scorer while at FC Dallas. He is close behind Tejada’s goalscoring (35) record with 29 goals and is in good form. Including him shows that the country wants to get out of the group and perhaps push for an appearance at the Final. Alberto Quintero Medina is another great player and is an accomplished goal scorer from the midfield. He has been a key player in Panama’s recent success and at 25, still has a long way to push his country to the first world cup.
This team is not an independent nation and not a member of FIFA. The island is ruled by France and exists as an overseas department and its players qualify for the national team through French citizenship. The country does not have much history in the soccer world besides winning the Caribbean Cup in 1993, so this won’t be their first appearance at the Gold Cup. The team participated in three Gold Cups to date and made it to the quarter finals in 2002. This will be their first appearance in 10 years and no one is expecting them to qualify for the knockout stages. They finished fourth in the Caribbean Cup, topping their group, which included Caribbean heavy-weights Cuba and Jamaica. Martinique should not be underestimated, but their group makes it hard for anyone to imagine that they have a chance.
Players to Watch – Frederic Piquionne is perhaps best known for his string of great performances for a struggling West Ham side as well as helping Portsmouth reach the FA Cup Final. He is by far the team’s best players and perhaps one of the most accomplished players at this tournament, too bad he plays for such a minnow.
Based on recent results and the teams selected, first place may be hard to predict. Mexico and Panama drew recently in a World Cup qualifier and everyone is expecting both to make the next round. Canada faced Panama in the third round of the World Cup qualifiers and shared the spoils, each team winning one game, but with Canada’s inexperienced squad and Panama’s continuous improvement, odds are in favor of the Central American team. First place is between Mexico and Panama, with Canada finishing third and Martinique last with 0 points.