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Panama name unchanged line-up for ‘hardest’ England game


Nizhniy Novgorod (Russia) (AFP) – Panama will name an unchanged line-up for the World Cup Group G clash against England in Nizhny Novgorod, veteran coach Hernan Gomez confirmed on Saturday.

The Colombian, who previously coached his home country and Ecuador at the World Cup, said he was opting for experience in his team selection.

“The line-up will be exactly the same,” said Gomez.

He added: “We have a certain stability and an organised team.” 

Ironically, England have been embroiled in a row with media about reporters revealing their starting line-up well before the game.

Potential plans to drop forward Raheem Sterling for Marcus Rashford were revealed after a photograph showing a possible line-up for Sunday was published after being photographed in the hand of assistant coach Steve Holland.

The publication of the team sheet prompted a spat between the England camp and the media.

Gomez said though it made not the slightest difference to his plans, nor “gives me any advantage”. 

He praised an “organised” and “speedy” England and said they would present an even stiffer test than Belgium, the top ranked team in the group, who beat the Central Americans 3-0.

“Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult match,” he said.

“It’s going to be our hardest match by far.”

He even admitted that the result could be the same or even worse, but snapped at one reporter who accused of him of being excessively negative.

“Have you heard me talk to my players, have you?” he responded after being accused of being talking down Panama’s chances.

Gomez said the Panamanians would try to defend stoutly and pick-off England in the “chaos” of the counter-attack.  

“If we play in an organised way and play the way we can, we can give them a hard time.”

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