NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (Reuters) - Panama have learned some harsh lessons in their opening two fixtures at the World Cup and should use the baptism of fire as a foundation for improvement, coach Hernan Dario Gomez said.
The central American nation are making their debut appearance in Russia and have been overwhelmed in their first matches, losing 3-0 to Belgium in Sochi last week and then 6-1 to England at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Sunday.
“I’ve had to play against two spectacular opponents. But that’s absolutely fantastic because that’s how you learn and draw conclusions and that’s how you can tell where your team is,” the Panama coach said.
“There are tremendous teams here at the World Cup, all with tremendous physical fitness, with lots of tactics and good technique, good pressing and organisation, speed on the pitch.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching the games at this World Cup and been very, very happy to be here. It’s just such a pity that we’ve been knocked out.”
Gomez, who coached his native Colombia at the 1998 finals in France, and Ecuador four years later, said he sought to impress upon his players the need to take heed of the conditioning of their opponents and their disciplined approach to the game.
“We are making history. We can be an example. We can leave a legacy for Panama in the future. It’s pivotal to be at a World Cup. It’s one of the most wonderful things that can happen in your career,” he added.
Panama will be looking for a first World Cup point when they take on Tunisia in their final Group G game in Saransk on Thursday. Tunisia have also been eliminated.
Editing by John O'Brien