Panama coach blunt and honest before World Cup debut


On paper, a talented Belgium side should have way to much firepower for Panama, who make history in their first ever game at a World Cup.

And it wasn't just the players singing with fans brilliantly in full voice, too.

The World Cup has got off to a great start, with some very unpredictable results coming our way in Russian Federation.

The passion exuded from Panama's national anthem sent social media into overdrive.

Today, Belgium take on World Cup debutants Panama, whilst England get their tournament away against Tunisia in Volgograd.

The team's key players are at the right age - Thibaut Courtois is 26, Toby Alderweireld is 29, Jan Vertonghen is 31, Kevin de Bruyne is 26, Eden Hazard is 27 and Romelu Lukaku is 25.

Sweden began the fifth day of the World Cup with an uneventful 1-0 win against South Korea, before Belgium eased past a tenacious, but mostly very bad Panama team.

Many are tipping Belgium for the tournament with their golden generation of players and it will be tough for the Canalmen to cut off the supply to Romelu Lukaku.

Earlier, Dries Mertens volleyed home a belting opening goal for the Belgians, followed by his traditional celebration where he forms a heart with his hands to symbolise his support of numerous charities, from the homeless community where he plays in Naples to the local dog shelter. "We arrive at the World Cup with problems scoring the goals".

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"We are not going to say that we will win or that we are the best team".

"It gives you a lot of breathing-space", Martinez told reporters.

"I think Eden is in a great moment of his career". The Belgium boss wanted a mature performance against a Panama side he refused to underestimate.

Belgium start their World Cup campaign on more familiar ground: a squad stuffed with stars but with questions over their manager.

"We were mature, responsible and serious, the commitment of this team is spectacular", the former Everton coach reiterated.

Panama almost pulled one goal back after a long-range strike from the centre of the pitch rushed Courtois to track back to push the ball to safety in the dying minutes of the extra minutes of the second half. Captain Kane had both of England's goals, his first in a major tournament, and he showed the kind of poise that might have been lacking in some previous England teams on the big stage.

"Now we already know what it's like to play in the World Cup", Gabriel Gomez said.

"Last week Belgium, together with Germany, was chosen for the European group to serve on the UN Security Council in 2019-2020, a challenge that we will take on eagerly".