Panama, the country
How do I hate thee? Let me name the ways:
- Your countries' priorities are so profoundly warped that a 6-hour night time party outside a business hotel with the sole purpose of disrupting an opponent's sleep is considered a legitimate form of expression. Police stood by and watched. In any civilized country demonstrators would have been jailed.
- You can't keep the stadium lights on for more than 6 minutes. Seriously.
- You can't competently produce a television broadcast from your national stadium of the 1 sport your country cares about. Constant switching of camera angles, action missed for replays, etc.
- Throwing beer at foreign press is a standard form of celebration.
We had been told that Panama was of a different sort than the other Central American hellholes (I'm looking at you, Honduras) but that was clearly not the case.
Panama, the players
We had also been told that the players respected the game a bit more than their dive-happy neighbours. The team's outrage in Toronto over Kenny Stamatopoulos' hide-the-pickle routine, and repeated harping about the Hutchinson-to-De Ro goal-without-honour would suggest they felt some claim to the moral high ground. This is what I saw.
- Early swarming of the young El Salvadoran referee to ensure he would fail to stamp any sort of authority on the match.
- Repeated diving/simulation to earn fouls in the attacking area by Blas Perez and Quintero.
- Repeated diving/simulation to waste time in the second half by the above-mentioned players, and the rest of the team, notably the keeper Pinedo. I counted 4 separate occasions where a player went down, rolling and clutching his face, looked upfield for the ref's reaction, that jumped into a sprint when no foul was awarded.
Elmer Bonilla, referee
He didn't make any game alteration decisions but was clearly cowed by the occasion, helped along by some early protests by the Panama team. This was a game begging for 4 or 5 yellows for rash challenges and simulation but he mostly kept the cards away.
Canada, the players (Marcel de Jong, excepted)
I hate everything about Panama, its people and the players, but the Canada performance was out-of-this-world bad. They clearly were not up for the occasion from the start and any result would have been entirely undeserved. The midfield was awful, especially Julian de Guzman. Patrice Bernier deserves his own sentence, so terrible was his contribution. David Edgar was shambolic at right back, though Kevin McKenna also had an off-night.
Marcel de Jong put in a creditable performance. Canada has one player that can cross the ball.
By what logic does changing the formation for the team's most important match during his tenure to a 4-4-2 after four years of 4-5-1 make any sense? His hands were somewhat tied, but the team had no idea what to do under that alignment, and it forced him to play several out of position. The performance level ticked up noticeably when the side shifted into the more familiar 4-5-1.
He must be fired if Canada doesn't qualify for the Hex. And a proper international coach (not Tony Fonseca!) brought in to take his place.
There is an off-chance (a big Panama win over Honduras and a big Canada win over Cuba in the next matchday) that Canada could go to San Pedro Sula in October, lose, and still qualify. This is good because Canada will lose in San Pedro Sula, another epic shithole.
What did I miss?