Panama celebrated a famous win as Sunday's 1-0 victory gave them their first CONCACAF World Cup qualifying triumph over the United States.

USA entered the away fixture unbeaten in eight World Cup qualifiers against Panama, including six wins, and enjoying a 13-match undefeated streak across all competitions.

But Panama had other ideas thanks to Anibal Godoy, whose 54th-minute header secured an unlikely victory in Panama City on the road to Qatar 2022.

In wild scenes, Godoy – who plays in MLS for Nashville – headed home Eric Davis' corner at the near post.

It was a rough outing for Gold Cup champions USA, who appeared out of sorts having failed to produce a single shot on target throughout the fixture at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

Panama are now level with leaders USA and Mexico on eight points, though El Tri are due to face Honduras on Sunday.

Jamaica international Kemar Roofe insists he is proud of finally making a long-awaited debut for the national team, despite a lopsided result against Panama.

The 28-year-old striker was among a number of players based in European leagues brought in to bolster the Reggae Boyz as the team looks to return to the FIFA World Cup for the first time in over two decades.

It was hardly the ideal scenario, however, as the team lost 3-0 at home to Panama.  The international window consisted of three games but due to United Kingdom restrictions on travel to countries on its red list, Roofe could only take part in the home fixture against Panama.  Both Mexico and Costa Rica where the team also had matches are on the UK’s red list.  Travel to any of these countries would have required a 10-day quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom for the players, with several leagues controversially opting not to release players for the fixtures.

Setbacks aside, however, Roofe insists his first cap was a proud moment for both himself and his relatives.

“It was a proud moment for myself and my family to represent my dad’s country of birth,” Roofe told the Daily Record.

“It’s a good experience to play international football. It’s a different style of football to the domestic game. It’s an enjoyable experience, even though we lost,” he added.

“We only had a few days to get to know each other and play the game. The two other games were in the red zone so we couldn’t go to those games.”

Following an opening-round loss to Mexico and loss to Panama, the team got on the board with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica. 

Jesus Corona salvaged a 1-1 draw away to Panama as Mexico dropped points for the first time in 2022 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

Mexico had won their opening two Octagonal fixtures to sit top of the CONCACAF standings on the road to Qatar 2022.

But Panama and Mexico shared the points at Estadio Rommel Fernandez Gutierrez in Panama City on Wednesday.

Panama – also unbeaten – had suffered four consecutive defeats to Mexico since earning a goalless draw against El Tri in World Cup qualifying in 2016.

However, hosts Panama opened the scoring through Rolando Blackburn approaching the half-hour mark in the 28th minute.

Mexico – again without head coach Tata Martino following eye surgery – had their chances in the opening half, but it was not until the 76th minute that El Tri found the back of the net.

After Sebastian Cordova hit the post, Corona was on hand to convert the rebound with a curled effort past Panama goalkeeper Luis Mejia.

Panama stayed undefeated in the Final Round of Concacaf World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022 with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Jamaica on Sunday at Independence Park in Kingston.

Panama now has four points after Sunday’s win and last Thursday’s opening 0-0 home draw versus Costa Rica, while Jamaica is still searching for its first point of qualification following Sunday’s result and Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico.

Panama opened the scoring in the 14th minute through an unlikely scorer. Center back Andres Andrade stepped into the centre circle and picked off a pass, but rather than find an attacker, he opted to dribble forward and fire off a shot before he got into the penalty area. The attempt surprised Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake, and Panama was off the mark, 1-0.

Panama looked for a second in the 35th minute, with Jose Luis Rodriguez getting the ball in the box and looking to curl a shot past Blake, but the Jamaican shot-stopper had the shot in his sights and made the stop. Two minutes later, Rodriguez turned provider, putting in a cross of his own for Rolando Blackburn, whose header also ended up in Blake’s hands.

But Blackburn used that as experience to double the lead in the 39th minute, beating Liam Moore to an Eric Davis cross and sending his header past Blake to give the Central Americans the 2-0 lead heading into the halftime break.

Jamaica manager Theodore Whitmore made a pair of changes at halftime, bringing Junior Flemmings and Devon Williams into the contest and also made another pair of subs in the 73rd minute, including inserting Shamar Nicholson, who scored in the 2-1 loss to Mexico, for Michail Antonio, who made his Jamaica debut on Sunday.

Jamaica had perhaps its best chance of the game in the 77th minute, with a shot from Nicholson forcing Panama GK Luis Mejia into action. But moments later, it was Panama on the counter-attack, and midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla played in Cecilio Waterman, who sent his finish past Blake to tie a bow on the victory for Panama.

Jamaica closes out the window with a trip to Costa Rica, while Panama will put its undefeated record on the line against Mexico in Panama City.

 

 

Jamaica Reggae Boyz defender Damion Lowe has taken solace in the fight and effort shown by the team, despite a late loss away to Mexico in the opening round of World Cup qualifiers, and is confident it augurs well for the team going forward.

The Jamaica national team seemed well on its way to securing an unlikely point at the renowned Azteca stadium, after a 65th minute Shamar Nicholson strike brought them on level terms.  It was, however, not to be as Mexico’s Henry Martin restored the home team’s advantage in the 89th minute.

The result left the disappointed Jamaican’s without a point, but having headed into the game without some of its first-team players being available the battling display at a venue where not many come away with anything could serve as a sign of encouragement.

“We are disappointed with the result but with the performance, the guys put out there, yes there is always room for more, but the guys showed lots of character,” Lowe said.

“The guys fought hard and that’s going to separate team getting points and qualifying for the World Cup, rather than just losing a game or buckling and being afraid,” he added.

The team’s best result at the venue was a 0-0 draw in the 2013 qualifying campaign, Jamaica will look to bounce back against Panama in their first home game of the qualifiers, at the country’s National Stadium.

Jamaica Reggae Boyz forward, Shamar Nicholson, has insisted a goal inside the world-famous Azteca stadium was scant consolation as the team was extremely disappointed to lose late on to Mexico in the opening round of the World Cup qualifiers.

On Wednesday, Nicholson’s well-taken equaliser, scored in the 65th minute, gave the less than full-strength team plenty of belief that they could leave Mexico with at least a share of the spoils.

Although they seemed well on their way to doing so, those hopes were cruelly dashed with less than five minutes remaining when Henry Martin put away an opportunistic finish in the 89th minute.

“It was devastating, to lose the game with just five minutes remaining was really shocking for the team,” Nicholson said.

“The good thing is we don’t have much to think about the game that has passed.  The main focus is the one coming up on Sunday.”

The team will be eager to bounce back with maximum points against Panama at the country’s National Stadium on Sunday.  Their central American opponents have proven stubborn opposition in the past, however, and Jamaica has won just 2 of its last eight games against them.  Jamaica did win the last encounter between the teams, a 1-0 triumph at the 2019 Gold Cup.  The Boyz will also be buoyed by the return to line-up of several of its UK-based contingent who were unable to take part in the Mexico fixture due to the country's UK travel red-list status.

 

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) could be breathing a sigh of relief as the country remained on the amber list in the latest update of the United Kingdom’s Traffic Light System, which applies to travel to and from the country.

Earlier this week, the Premier League announced that, based on the current quarantine rules, it would not release players for the upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers to countries on the UK’s red list.  It was later joined by the La Liga and Serie A competitions and yesterday, England’s second tier, the EFL also joined the list of clubs.

The concerns stem from the fact that players returning from red-listed destinations would, based on the rules, be forced to quarantine for 10 days.  The leagues argue that those conditions would lead to players missing games, in addition to having to make up for fitness requirements.

Unless an agreement can be worked out the decision will impact the availability of several teams competing in the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which kick off on September 2.

At current, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica are the teams that have been placed on the red list.  The USA, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Honduras are all on the amber list, while Canada has been moved to the green list.

Individuals returning from red list countries are required to quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days and are subject to at least two COVID-19 tests.

Fully vaccinated individuals travelling to countries on the amber list would be subject to taking a COVID-19 test two days after arriving or before.  Non-vaccinated individuals returning from countries on the amber list would have to undergo the mandatory 10-day quarantine period.

Based on the interpretation of the rules and the club’s specific stipulation of not allowing players to travel to red list countries, the CONCACAF countries on the amber and green list could potentially have their players available.  Baring a change of circumstances, affected countries on the red list would be left short-handed.  However, vaccine stipulations, which it seems are required to exempt individuals from mandatory quarantine, could complicate things.

Jamaica has at least 10 players who ply their trade between the Premier League and England Football League (EFL).  Among the EPL players are Andre Gray (Watford), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), and potentially Michail Antonio (West Ham) who recently received official documentation after switching from England.  It is currently not known how many of the team's overseas players are vaccinated.

 

 

Panama came from behind three times to draw with Qatar, while Honduras swept aside Grenada 4-0 in their opening CONCACAF Gold Cup matches on Tuesday.

In a tight game in Houston, six goals were scored in the second half as 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar hit the lead three times but failed to capitalise.

Panama's Rolando Blackburn levelled the game twice in a flurry of goals in the first 20 minutes after half-time, as Hassan Al Heidos put Qatar up 3-2 from the spot in the 63rd minute. Eric Davis equalised with a 79th-minute penalty.

Honduras dominated Grenada in the later game, with goals from Jerry Bengtson, Edwin Solano, Johnny Leveron and Romell Quioto.

Panama and Honduras will meet on Saturday in Houston after Grenada and Qatar face off at the same venue.

Diego Lainez dazzled as Mexico returned to winning ways ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Panama in an international friendly in Nashville on Wednesday.

The Real Betis midfielder opened the scoring in the 21st minute for El Tri, before defender Cesar Montes' 57th-minute header made it 2-0.

Henry Martin worked a sublime one-two before a cool finish in second-half stoppage time to round out a strong win.

Mexico had lost last month's CONCACAF Nations League final on penalties to the United States, before a goalless friendly draw with Honduras.

Gerardo Martino's side made light work on Panama, who are currently ranked 78th in the world, ahead of the Gold Cup to be played in the US this month.

Montes hit the crossbar with an 18th minute header from a corner, but Lainez put them ahead three minutes.

Lainez raced onto a lofted diagonal ball from Luis Romo in acres of space, taking his time to slot on his left past Panama goalkeeper Jose Calderon.

Panama's Eric Davis fired a free-kick off target before Montes won another header from a corner which Calderon comfortably saved.

Montes made his next chance count, heading in from Alexis Vega's 57th-minute corner.

Mexico had a goal disallowed for offside when Jesus Ricardo Angulo squared for Uriel Antuna before Martin put the icing on the cake.

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