Panama will be making their first-ever FIFA World Cup appearance at Russia 2018. Currently listed at No. 55 on the FIFA World Ranking, Panama entered last December’s World Cup draw as the fourth-lowest ranked side in this year’s competition, ahead of only South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Despite their somewhat distant position on the FIFA ranking, Los Canaleros have emerged as legitimate contenders at international tournaments in recent years, reaching the final four in three of their past four trips to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and advancing to the final of the Copa Centroamericana in three of six appearances.
A number of the players who participated in those tournaments will be making the trip to Russia 2018, as Panama has chosen to go with an experienced football lineup that features six players who have made at least 100 appearances with the national side.
Panama’s Odds to Win World Cup: +100000
One of two debutant squads at the 2018 World Cup, Los Canaleros will hit the pitch for their group stage opener against Belgium trailing alongside Saudi Arabia as +100000 long shots on the World Cup futures.
However, opponents would be unwise to look past Panama at this year’s tournament. With a 2-3-3 win-draw-loss record in their past eight competitive matches against squads bound for Russia 2018, the Panamanians have proven they can compete against top-level opponents.
Panama’s Odds to Win Group G: +5000
Panama failed to benefit from last December’s World Cup draw which leaves them grouped with a pair of European powerhouses, England and Belgium, and an underrated national side from Tunisia. Not surprisingly, Los Canaleros sit well back of the perennial contenders as +5000 long shots to win Group G in World Cup betting.
The Panamanians will hit the World Cup pitch for the first time on June 18 as massive +2000 underdogs against Belgium, and are pegged as a distant +1400 bet in their date with England six days later. Panama has never faced either of the European sides, who have combined to go undefeated in 24 straight matches.
Los Canaleros will also encounter a severe test in their group stage finale against Tunisia as +225 underdogs. Perched as the highest-ranked team among the African squads that have qualified for this year’s tournament, No. 14 Tunisia also enjoys a lengthy unbeaten streak, going 5-2-0 in seven outings across all competitions.
Faced with such stiff competition, Panama will likely need to pick up points in at least two of their three Group D matches to have any chance of paying out as a +700 bet to advance out of the group stage, and are a short -140 wager to close out their group stage schedule with UNDER 1.5 points.
Panama’s Best World Cup Bets
While Panama has struggled with consistency in recent friendly competition, going 2-1-3 over their past six, they have managed to regularly contain opposing offenses, limiting them to one or fewer goals in 11 of 14 outings.
That could work to their advantage in their date with England, which has struggled to find the net since the final weeks of UEFA World Cup qualifying, and has tallied just four total goals in six outings. Such low-scoring trends could improve the appeal of the +500 odds on their group stage tilt with the Three Lions ending in a draw.
The same could hold true in Panama’s date with a Tunisia squad that has been struck by injuries, most notably to forward Youssef Msakni, who potted three goals against Guinea in AFC World Cup qualifying to guarantee the Eagles of Carthage a berth at Russia 2018. Odds of a draw in their June 28 match sit at +205, while the goal total is pegged at 2.5 with the UNDER favored at -150.
Panama’s Players to Watch: Anibal Godoy, Roman Torres
Midfielder Anibal Godoy has developed a strong reputation as a sound two-way player in 86 caps with the national side, as well as four seasons with the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS.
Team captain Roman Torres brings even more depth to the Los Canaleros defense. The 31-year-old veteran has made 106 appearances for Panama on the international stage, and brings critical big-game experience to the squad following consecutive trips to the MLS Cup final with the Seattle Sounders, including a victory in 2016.
Panama’s Road to Russia
After receiving a bye to the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, Panama compiled a respectable 3-1-2 record in fifth-round action, finishing a comfortable second to Costa Rica on the Group B table.
However, Los Canaleros would not clinch their first-ever World Cup berth until the final matchday of the fifth round. Panama entered its final match needing a win, but not in control of its own destiny. A goal in the 88th minute powered the club to a 2-1 win over the Ticos, while Trinidad and Tobago’s stunning 2-1 defeat of the United States later that night assured Los Canaleros of a trip to Russia 2018.
|1||Jaime Penedo||GK||Dinamo Bucharest||130|
|12||José Calderón||GK||Chorrillo FC||31|
|22||Álex Rodríguez||GK||San Francisco||6|
|2||Michael Amir Murillo||DEF||New York||21|
|3||Harold Cummings||DEF||San José||51|
|4||Fidel Escobar||DEF||New York||22|
|15||Erick Davis||DEF||Dunajská Streda||37|
|23||Felipe Baloy||DEF||CSD Municipal||102|
|6||Gabriel Gómez||MID||Atlético Bucaramanga||143|
|8||Édgar Joel Bárcenas||MID||Cafetaleros de Tapachula||28|
|11||Armando Cooper||MID||Universidad de Chile||97|
|14||Valentín Pimentel||MID||CD Plaza Amador||22|
|19||Alberto Quintero||MID||Universitario de Deportes||89|
|20||Aníbal Godoy||MID||San José||88|
|21||José Luis Rodríguez||MID||Gent||1|
|7||Blas Pérez||FWD||CSD Municipal||17|
|10||Ismael Díaz||FWD||Deportivo Fabril||10|
|16||Abdiel Arroyo||FWD||LD Alajuelense||33|
|18||Luis Tejada||FWD||Sport Boys Callao||105|