Photography by Shamil Tanna

World Cup qualifier, October 11 2017

Panama 2
  • Perez (53)
  • R. Torres (88)
Costa Rica 0
  • Venegas (36)

Heading into the final round of qualifiers for Russia 2018, Hernán Darío Gómez’s Panama needed to beat Costa Rica and hope that Trinidad and Tobago could secure a victory against the USA so that Panama could reach their first ever World Cup. With Panama a goal down at half-time, the pain of what had happened four years earlier, when they missed out on the chance to qualify for Brazil 2014 after conceding a late goal, threatened to resurface.

In the 53rd minute, however, a controversial equalising goal gave the hosts hope. A corner caused chaos in Costa Rica’s penalty area, and the ball initially appeared to cross the line off of Blas Pérez. A point, regardless, wouldn’t have sufficed, so Panama’s hopes of reaching Russia faded with every minute that passed.

Speaking exclusively to The Coaches’ Voice, Gómez explains how everything changed in the final dramatic minutes of a game that secured Panama’s place at the 2018 World Cup and sent a nation wild with joy. That equalising goal, incidentally, has since been labelled their “ghost goal”.

Starting teams and formations

Hernán Dario Gómez

The child’s dream

Panama head coach and former Colombia and Ecuador manager Hernán Dario Gómez recalls the World Cup experiences that have left a lasting mark on him
Hernán Dario Gómez

It still hurts my soul

Former Panama manager Hernán Darío Gómez talks about being part of the Colombia coaching set up during a tragic period for the team
Francisco "Pacho" Maturana

The vehicle for change

Francisco “Pacho” Maturana led Colombia at a time when Pablo Escobar overshadowed the nation, but created perhaps their finest ever team