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Gold Cup 2015 Profile: Panama

A look at a national side that, frankly, none of us know anything about.

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Next up in LoVS' rather bizarre foray into the unbeknown world of CONCACAF football, it's turn of the apparent 54th best team in the world, Panama, the small country wedged in-between South and North America.

Manager: Hernán Darío Gómez

As you may well, and correctly so, expect, much of the research for these here profiles will becoming from the wonderful, all knowing source that is Wikipedia. Now, worryingly, a good 3/4s of Gómez' wiki page consists of a time in August 2011, when he attacked a woman outside a pub in Bogotá. Hitting her "at least four times", all because she criticised his management of the Colombian national team!

Days after the incident he said:

"Faced with the personal incident that took place Saturday, which has damaged me, I want to say publicly that I am profoundly sorry for this and for having lost control the way I did.

I have always been a defender of women, and I admire and respect them. This act shames me with my mother, with my wife and with all the women in my family and in the country."

As a result of the assault, he faced great pressure from many different circles to resign his post as Colombia manager, and did so not too long after.

It was no doubt a moment of shame for the man, who is Colombian himself, but now to look at his actual career in football. His career stretched nineteen long years, but the only teams I can find that he played for was his hometown club, Medellín, and then another team in his home town, Atlético Nacional. He played as a defensive midfielder, despite only being 5ft5" tall.

He has found middling success in his management career, with his biggest achievement being guiding Ecuador to their first ever World Cup tournament in 2002. He has also managed Colombia twice, Atlético Nacional, Guatemala, Santa Fe, Medellín and now finds himself as Panama's boss.

Squad Members:

Panama actually have a surprising number of players situated in Europe, with them having four players who ply their trade in European Leagues. Youngster, Roberto Chen, plays for Spanish outfit Malaga, whilst attacking midfielder, Armando Cooper, recently joined the eccentric and wonderful German side St. Pauli. Luis 'Coco' Henriquez has been playing for Lech Poznan for eight years, and Aníbal Godoy plays for Budapest Honvéd.

Panama also have a healthy contingent of MLS based players: a very good goalkeeper named Jamie Penedo of LA Galaxy, FC Dallas' Blas Pérez and finally Colorado Rapids striker Gabriel Torres.

The rest of the squad will be flying in from various countries scattered across Central and South America.

They also have a player named Rolando Blackburn, which I thought worthy of note.

Full Squad:

Goalkeepers: Jose Calderon (Coatepeque), Luis Mejía (CA Fenix), Jaimie Penedo (LA Galaxy).

Defenders: Harold Cummings (Independiente), Robert Chen (Malaga), Erick Davis (San Miguelito), Luis Henriquez (Lech Poznan), Adolfo Machado (Saprissa), Román Torres (Millonarios).

Midfielders: Miguel Camargo (Chorrillo), Armando Cooper (St. Pauli), Aníbal Godoy (Budapest Honvéd), Gabriel Gomez (Herediano), Valentin Pimental (Plaza Amador), Darwin Pinzón (San Miguelito), Alberto Quintero (Lobos BUAP), Alfredo Stephens (Chorrillo).

Forwards: Abdiel Arroyo (Árabe Unido), Rolando Blackburn (Comunicaciones), Roberto Nurse (Dorados), Blas Pérez (FC Dallas), Luis Tejada (Juan Aurich), Gabriel Torres (Colorado Rapids).

Key Player: Blas Pérez

What's the most vital part in tournament football? Getting goals. If you don't score goals in tournaments you're more than likely going home very early, and that player who is most likely to get goals for Panama is veteran Blas Pérez. The 34 year-old, who's had quite the career playing for various teams across the Americas, may be old and a bit slow, but he's still a very good finisher. The FC Dallas striker has scored 36 goals in 87 games for the Texan club, an average of a goal every 2.4 games. His record for his country is nearly just as good, with 37 goals in 93 appearances, no doubt his team mates and the fans will be resting all their hopes of any sort of showing at the tournament on Pérez' wide shoulders.

Chances of Winning:

The Los Canaleros have had a mixed run up to the tournament. In their last three friendlies they've had a win, draw and a loss, in that order. Back in March they defeated one of the favourites for the completion, Costa Rica, 2-1. More recently in June they managed to scrape a 1-1 draw at home to Ecuador, before getting smashed of them 4-0 when they traveled to their stadium.

Panama find themselves in Group A, with the United States, Honduras and Haiti, and whilst anything can happen in football, it's hard to imagine that Panama will be able to overcome the World Cup credentials of both the US and Honduras and climb out of the group. Which leaves them with a very small chance of winning the entire thing.