Friday, July 21, 2023

The Greatest World Cup ever

 Today the World Cup has started in New Zealand/Australia. It will be the first women's World Cup with 32 teams competing, and with the immense growth of the women's game in the past decade, it all points to it being  the best World Cup ever.

In the opening match, the hosts from New Zealand pulled a somewhat surprising 1-0 victory over Norway, while the other hosts, Australia, defeated Ireland 1-0.

So good start for the hosts as the World Cup kicks off. 

Living in El Salvador there is scant interest here for the tournament, and although I have so many TV channels, two cable subscriptions, as well as two online TV subscriptions, and still nowhere shows the Women's World Cup in a country as passionate about football as El Salvador. This is very disappointing, but I hope I will be able to watch some of this great tournament!

Monday, July 17, 2023

Win for Mexico, tears for Panama

I enjoyed watching the Gold Cup CONCACAF final between Mexico and Panama. Mexico as biog favourites against a Panamanian side that pressed for their chances, as they had done against USA. But in the end the Mexicans won 1-0 on a late goal by the Feyenoord striker Santi Gimenez. It was deserved because Mexico had managed to put pressure on the Panamanians, who despite it all fought so bravely that they got the respect even of the Mexicans.

This is the ninth title for Mexico. USA has seven, while Canada has one, since the tournament was introduced in 1991. One of the weaknesses is the lack of breadth in the region, dominated completely by Mexico and USA, why it would have been refreshing with a Panamanian victory. That said, Panama leaves with their heads held high, having played a great tournament and we will surely see them again.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Panama in the Gold Cup Final

 Yesterday I had a 4 hour layover at Tocumen airport in Panama City. Fortunately, the layover coincided exactly with the semifinal in the Gold Cup between USA and Panama.

USA are the defending champions, having won two years ago and despite the absence of some players, must have been counted as favourites after defeating Canada in the quarterfinals. Panama had crushed the invitees of Qatar 4-0 to get to the semifinals.

It was a close match throughout, with Panama always having the edge in chances and possession, even having two goals annulled (correctly) for off-side, one in the dying seconds of the match when they really put pressure on the North Americans. It was therefore deserved when in extra time, Ivan Anderson brought Panama ahead. The USA now had to pressure, but at was a magnificent strike by the tournament top scorer Jesus Ferreira whereby the USA were back in the match,

It ended 1-1 and had to go into a dramatic penalty contest where the Panamanians in the bar at the airport were understandably tense. The score was 4-4 after the first four kicks, after misses by Jesus Ferreira and Christian Martinez. After Cristian Roldan missed the 6th US kick, Adalberto Carrasquilla gave the Panamanians a well-deserved winner.

Panama are only in their second final ever (first one in 2013 which they lost to the USA) and this documents the immense strides Panamanian football have been doing under Danish-Spanish Manager Thomas Christiansen. They will face Mexico, who defeated Jamaica 0-3 in the other semifinal. Mexico are always a tuff nut to crack, but they have not looked strong lately and surely Panama has a chance.

I will support them after my pleasant sojourn at the airport.