Panama’s ones to watch: 15-stone centre-half and a journeyman striker
Unless you’re the most hipster football fan going, you’re unlikely to be familiar with the majority of Panama’s World Cup squad.
Six of the 23 ply their trade in MLS, with the rest scattered around the globe in Peru, Spain, Chile and the Belgian Reserve League, amongst others.
What does that mean? Well, it means you need to get familiar with some of the men England will come up against in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday afternoon.
So we’ve picked out three Panamanian stars who could make a name for themselves against the Three Lions…
Weighing in at 15-and-a-half-stone, centre-half Roman Torres isn’t so much one to watch as one you can’t miss.
Regarded as Panama’s star player, the 32-year-old Seattle Sounders star is easily identifiable by his free-flowing dreadlocks.
And you can be sure he’ll give Harry Kane and co a hairy time too. The 6ft 3in defender is an imposing figure at the back and did well to keep Belgium quiet for 47 minutes on Monday.
He’s a threat at the other end as well. After all, he netted the goal against Costa Rica which took Panama to the finals for the first time in the country’s history.
Torres’ centre-half partner Fidel Escobar doesn’t just have the most intimidating name in football – he’s also a very promising young defender.
The 23-year-old is currently on-loan at New York Red Bulls and was named as part of the MLS Team of the Week for his performance in the side’s opening league match against Portland Timbers.
He showed against Belgium that he’s comfortable on the ball. And alongside Torres, helps form part of a strong defensive partnership which will no doubt be key to Panama’s strategy to deny England on Sunday.
Journeyman striker Luis Tejada started on the bench against Belgium but looks set to get the nod from the off on Sunday.
The 36-year-old is Panama’s all-time leading scoring with 43 goals in 105 appearances for the national team since 2001.
Now onto his 19th club, the 6ft 1in ace plays as an out-and-out number nine and was the joint top-scorer at 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup finals.
It’ll be difficult for El Gordito against the Three Lions, but if he gets a sniff, he could make England pay.
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