Our football match prediction:
A place in the 2017 Gold Cup semis will be at stake when Costa Rica and Panama face each other at Lincoln Financial Field. Los Ticos kicked off their campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Honduras and following a 1-1 draw with Canada, Oscar Ramirez’s men rolled over French Guiana in their final group game. Important first-team regular Joel Campbell suffered a knee injury in the 1-1 draw with Canada and he will be sorely missed in Thursday’s football match against Panama. In Campbell’s absence a man to watch in Oscar Ramirez’s team will be experienced attacker Bryan Ruiz. Los Canaleros, on the other hand, book their place in the quarter-finals thanks to back-to-back wins over the likes of Nicaragua and Martinique, but they will have a much bigger fish to fry against Costa Rica. A close encounter appears on the cards and we predict that the game will go into extra time.
Highlighted Player (Celso Borges):
Celso Borges is an experienced 28-year-old central midfielder who currently plays for Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna and the Costa Rica national team. Borges was a youth prospect at Saprissa before making his making his professional debut at the age of 18. He had a very successful career winning five national championships with Saprissa. Borges later had stints at various clubs before joining Deportivo in 2015 initially on loan and then permanently. He played in the 2005 U-17 FIFA World Championships and was considered among the best players of the tournament. His youth team exploits earned him a senior team debut in 2008 after which he became a regular with the national team. Borges has already earned a total of 85 caps for Costa Rica and found the back of the net 19 times. He had a successful run with the national team in 2014 FIFA World Cup reaching the quarter-finals.
Highlighted Team (Panama):
Established in 1937, the Panama national team is a member of CONCACAF confederation which has seen their reputation grow significantly over the past decade. Los Canaleros finished as runners-up in the 2005 and 2013 Gold Cup respectively, while they also reached the fourth round for the 2006 and 2014 World Cup CONCACAF qualifications in that order. Panama were denied their place in the play-offs in 2014 in the last 90 seconds of the ultimate match with USA as they conceded two late goals in stoppage time as they crashed out of the qualification. Los Canaleros are heading into the Copa America Centenario as the winners of the qualifying play-offs and under the guidance of former Colombia and Ecuador head coach Henan Dario Gomez they will try to build on their most recent momentum. Midfielder Gabriel Gomez is the most capped player for Panama with his 125 appearances since 2003, while Luis Tejada is the team’s top scorer with 42 goals in 94 appearances so far.