Mexico faces a key game when they play against host Panama in their first game of the second round in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. A victory against Panama will give Mexico the ticket to the U-17 World Cup and eliminate Panama, who need a victory after losing to Costa Rica in their first game of the second round.
Mexico is going into the game with two more days of rest but will face the difficulty of playing the host team on extreme conditions, not only because of the extreme necessity for Panama but also because of the controversial nature of their game against Costa Rica.
Mexico qualified in second place of their group (considered by most to be the Group of Death),and although they lost to the US, in the group stage, losing the group in the process, they crushed El Salvador and Jamaica convincingly. They are in most people eyes the best team in this Group B, which they share with Costa Rica and Panama. Still, the U-17 is a very inconsistent group and Panama is the host team. In many people’s eyes, this will be Mexico’s toughest match, even though the US is a better team than Panama. The last time they faced Panama in Panama City in a U-17 tournament was the 2013 U-17 final, where they came back to beat Panama 2-1 after trailing 1-0.
Panama arrive after a very controversial game against Costa Rica, and the situation finished extremely tense, with the ref getting pelted by the crowd after calling back two goals. The ref for this game will be under pressure by the crowd and it has not been a good thing in past games in CONCACAF history.
While Panama is a good team and looked to be better than Costa Rica, they aren't the best team that Mexico has faced and this tournament. As the host country, their tournament has been disappointing so far. They had a good opening win against Honduras, but then failed to beat a 10-man Haiti before only being Curacao 1-0. They looked to be better at times than Costa Rica but lost the game after getting two goals called back, the first of which looked to be a blown offside call. After the game, the players and especially the crowd got into it with Guatemalan referee Bryan Lopez.
On paper, a draw doesn't eliminate Panama, they would then depend on the result of Mexico and Costa Rica. A defeat, though will eliminate them. While it's a very uphill situation, one thing is for certain, they will have the support of the crowd .
For Mexico, a victory on Wednesday will be a big weight off their shoulders. Mexico has shown to be a good team in every game so far, even their loss to the US. They will face their biggest test in trying to continue this on Wednesday.
Date: Wednesday, May 3
Time: 4:00 PM Pacific, 6:00 PM Central, 7:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Maracana, Panama City, Panama
Television: Univision Deportes Network (US), TVC Deportes (Mexico)