Panama v Bolivia: Must-win fixture in daunting group


Panama hope their consistent Gold Cup performances translate into a good run at the Copa America Centenario this month.

Hernan Dario Gomez's men kick off their campaign against Bolivia in Orlando on Monday, lining up in a group that also contains heavyweights Argentina and Chile.

But after reaching at least the semi-finals in the last three editions of the Gold Cup, including a runner-up finish in 2013, Panama are hopeful of doing themselves justice on their Copa America debut.

"We want to do things in a good way on the day of the match against Bolivia," said midfielder Armando Cooper.

"We are doing things well. We are all good, we're healthy.

"We want to impose our style and form. We hope that on the day of the match against Bolivia we can do that and more."

Defender Adolfo Machado added: "We have an opponent at a very good level in Bolivia coming up. The team is focused and we are preparing ourselves in the best way.

"We all know the coaching staff's ideas and strategy. The 23 of us are available for them and we are all capable for what they require.

"The mindset is at 100 per cent. It's a blessing to be in this Copa America."

Bolivia are the lowest-ranked nation in the competition and last year made it out of the group stage for the first time since finishing as runners-up in 1997, when they saw off a Colombia side coached by current Panama boss Gomez in the quarter-finals.

A 3-2 victory over Ecuador in 2015 represented Bolivia's first Copa America win for 18 years.

The chances of a repeat of their 1963 triumph in the South American tournament appear slim, particularly when the fact Argentina and Chile contested last year's final is taken into consideration.

With that in mind, both Bolivia and Panama will consider this a must-win fixture if they harbour any hopes of making it to the next round.