Nizhny Novgorod : "Ole, Ole, Ole … Panama, Panama!" The Nizhny Novgorod Stadium called the potentially demoralizing score an insignificant concern. Panama's fans, who were excitable even in defeat, now had a real moment to release their gaiety. A first World Cup goal, in a game that was described by coach Hernan Dario Gomez as "toughest of the group".
The mood of the celebration had been set early. Last night, on popular Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street, Panama's fans gathered in large numbers to feel their presence. In financial terms, for many in the country, which has four million inhabitants, it was a daunting prospect of visiting Russia for the World Cup ̵
But many have recorded what they consider a unique opportunity. The mad turn in the CONCACAF qualifying phase, fans feared, is unlikely to recur. Panama was the main beneficiary of a forgotten campaign for the regional heavyweight of the United States of America. Although Los Canaleros (The Canal Men) may return to the World Cup in 2026, when expanded to 48 teams, this trip could prove more favorable for Panama fans as they work together from the US, Canada and Mexico. Some 4,000 fans did not want to miss the opportunity to see their team in action on their first appearance.
It was a debut that brought several lessons home. The technical and tactical inefficiencies of the Panama side were brutally exposed; The first 45 minutes against Belgium, when the Central Americans were able to stamp the opposition, now seem like an aberration. Discipline was another issue in Panama's game, the second penalty against England on Sunday was a sign of desperate fouling because nothing else worked.
However, this World Cup was also an opportunity to learn more about Panama and its fans. The supporters have distinguished themselves by their vocal vocals, their friendly disposition and their disarming cheerfulness, even if things went badly. They were also interested in sharing information about the Panamanian football. But above all, they want the world to know that their team has made it. A particularly enjoyable sight the night before the game against England were the severely defeated Panamanians, who switched off their English counterparts in the city center.
The noisy support continued on a blistering Sunday here in the stadium. The fans were decorated in red, blue and yellow colors of their team and were in unison when they took a chance. The mood was somewhat subdued by the concessions of five goals before half time, but the followers found their voice in the second half.
After 78 minutes the vigil found its catharsis. Satisfaction came on the shoulders of the team's most respected personality. The 37-year-old Felipe Baloy has seen Panama through his dark years. The defender's decision to raise his shoes after this World Cup is sweetened by his historic intervention. It was not some other destination. A look at the Panamanian faces said it all. Delirium overtook her; Tears, smiles and shouts on a single face. A "what has just happened" looks over the face.
The fact that it was Baloy scoring the goal had not missed her. He was there when Panama was among the hundreds of teams who could only dream of playing in the World Cup. Now they were all part of it.
Finally, the Panama fans went away satisfied with the work of the day. The only goal in a 1-6 defeat brings a chance for a better future for their favorite team. The match against Tunisia takes place in Saransk on Thursday and fans believe that their first point in the World Cup does not have to wait until the next tournament.
The Panamanians in Russia still have a few days left to seize this opportunity. Although nine goals have been scored in the first two days, the party can go a little further. As fans, players and coaches have stressed Gomez, it's about making it to the World Cup. Everything else comes as a bonus. Their perception of the World Cup deserves a few hearings. Not every bad result should be a referendum on the place of the poorer nations in the tournament.
As Panama has shown against Belgium, there can be a determined demonstration, even if odds are heaping against the team. Although the stronger outfit on most occasions surpasses Los Canaleros the experience will only make Panama better – a point coach Gomez wanted to highlight. The benefits could begin in the next few years. For the fans who will list the cost of this trip for years to come, thanks to the credit provided for it, the experience of visiting a World Cup has already enriched it.
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