Published: Tue, June 19, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Panama's World Cup debut spoiled by Belgium

Panama's World Cup debut spoiled by Belgium

Panama boss Hernan Dario Gomez says that his side "played with dignity" during their 3-0 defeat to Belgium at the World Cup finals.

And it wasn't just the players singing with fans brilliantly in full voice, too.

Panama will make their World Cup bow on Monday having upstaged the United States to make it to Russian Federation, though the Central Americans face an uphill task against the Belgians.

The passion exuded from Panama's national anthem sent social media into overdrive.

They play Tunisia in the historic city of Volgograd on Monday evening knowing anything other than a win would scatter pre-tournament plans, with Belgium looming later in Group G.

Lukaku nodded in a sensational Kevin De Bruyne pass and the Manchester United striker then scored a cute chip, though Panama can take heart from a promising display ahead of games against England and Tunisia.

Belgium are not short of belief but Thibaut Courtois insisted the Red Devils are not among the favourites to win the World Cup in Russian Federation.

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Roberto Martinez and his staff will be happy and hope for more of the same when they face Tunisa next, before what will likely be a top of the table clash with England in the final group game. And while Sweden scored the victor on a VAR-ruled penalty kick, neither of the game's leading creators-Sweden's Emil Forsberg and South Korea's Son Heung-Min-was able to put his stamp on the match.

Doubts emerged after a goalless first half, but Belgium answered such concerns swiftly. "It played against an Argentina squad which isn't at the same level as Belgium right now".

Courtois, who dismissed questions about his future amid links with Real Madrid, added: "I think everybody has more experience if we compare the situation to four years ago [in Brazil]".

With six players boasting a century of worldwide appearances, nearly half the squad aged over 30 and a Head Coach who has taken two other nations to World Cups, Panama have experience but very little on such a stage.

The trend over the decades has been clear: European teams win more at World Cups taking place in Europe, and teams from the Americas win more at World Cups taking place outside of Europe.

He further said: "But undoubtedly football is king at the moment, and the Belgian team, commonly known as the Red Devils, is immensely popular".

"Last week Belgium, together with Germany, was chosen for the European group to serve on the UN Security Council in 2019-2020, a challenge that we will take on eagerly".

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