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Jun 13, 2021 at 12.05am UK at Estadio Nacional Rod Carew
Quintero Medina (55'), Waterman Ruiz (77')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Janga (87')
Antonia (37'), Anita (40'), Gaari (65')

Preview: Panama vs. Curacao - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's World Cup Qualifying - North Central America clash between Panama and Curacao, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Panama take on Curacao in the first leg of their second round clash in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on Saturday.

The two nations are playing for one of three remaining spots in the final round, with United States, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and Jamaica already through to the eight team group stage format.

Match preview

Panama manager Thomas Christiansen pictured in 2018© Reuters

Panama wrapped up their progression from Group D with a 3-0 win over Dominican Republic on Wednesday, ensuring a 100% record with a positive goal difference of 18.

Former Leeds United manager Thomas Christiansen, who took over the Panama national team last July, would have been particularly satisfied by his team only conceding one goal in four matches.

However, given that Curacao are currently two places above Panama in the FIFA world rankings (76th compared to 78th), the Canal Men are set for a much tougher test over the two legs across the next week.

After reaching the World Cup for the first time in the country's history in Russia in 2018, there is significant pressure on Christiansen to at least provide the nation with a chance at the final third-round hurdle.

Curacao midfielder Michael Maria on ball in 2019© Reuters

Curacao's progression to the second round was certainly less routine than their forthcoming opponents, having edged Guatemala to top spot of Group C by the skin of their teeth.

Heading into Wednesday's final matchday showdown with Los Chapines, Guus Hiddink's side knew that a draw would be enough to see them advance due to having scored one more goal than their opponents in the previous three matches.

Perhaps befitting of two sides with almost identical records, Hiddink utilised all of his managerial experience to mastermind a 0-0 draw and ensure the Dutch-speaking nation's progression.

Indeed, having been a manager for 34 years now, including five previous spells at more illustrious senior national sides, Hiddink may be able to provide his side with an edge against Panama despite entering the clash as underdogs.

Panama World Cup Qualifying - North Central America form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Panama form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Curacao World Cup Qualifying - North Central America form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Curacao form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Team News

Panama's Adolfo Machado celebrates scoring his side's equaliser against Brazil on March 23, 2019© Reuters

Panama are unlikely to make any changes from the side which dispatched Dominican Republic in what represented a must-not-lose final matchday.

That could mean a place on the bench for Gabriel Torres, who remains on 22 goals for his country.

Likewise, Hiddink is not expected to tinker from the side which duly delivered the draw Curacao needed against Guatemala on Wednesday.

Brothers Leandro Bacuna and Juninho Bacuna, who play their domestic football at Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town respectively in the Championship, are integral figures alongside former Everton defender Cuco Martina.

Panama possible starting lineup:
Mejia; Murillo, Cummings, Andrade, Davis; Quintero, Carrasquilla, Camargo, Godoy, Guerrero; Fajardo

Curacao possible starting lineup:
Room; Gaari, Martina, Alberto; Antonia, Anita, J. Bacuna, Maria; Kuwas, Van den Hurk, L. Bacuna

SM words green background

We say: Panama 1-0 Curacao

We expect the hosts to utilise their greater big game experience by narrowly edging the first leg on Saturday.

However, should that prove to be the case, everything would still be to play for in the second leg next Wednesday.

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