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Panama World Cup coach Gomez quits

Panama City (AFP) – Hernan Dario Gomez said on Tuesday that he was quitting as coach of Panama after leading the nation to their first World Cup finals.

“Now, for me, it is the time for the difficult act of moving my feet from the place where I have put my heart,” wrote the Colombian coach, who is known as Bolillo, in a letter published by the Panamanian football federation. 

Panamanian media reported that Gomez was taking over Ecuador, which finished eighth in the 10-team World Cup qualifying group and failed to reach Russia.

Gomez coached Ecuador from 1999 to 2004 and led them to the 2002 World Cup, four years after guiding his native Colombia to the finals.

Gomez took charge of Panama in 2014 and led them to the third qualifying place in the final regional group, thanks to an 88th minute goal in their last game, which allowed them to edge Honduras on goal difference and the United States by a point.

In Russia, Panama struggled, losing to Belgium, England and Tunisia, conceding 11 goals while scoring just two. 

“Russia 2018 was the beginning, I fulfilled my promise to take Panama to its first football World Cup and that will remain in my heart, and those of all Panamanians, for life,” the 62-year-old wrote.

“Panama is on a secure path to continue making history in football.”

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