El Salvador hosts Panama as CONCACAF WCQ resumes

El Salvador fans turn on the lantern of their phones after a power cut at Cuscatlan Stadium
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PREVIEW – World Cup Qualifying is back, and El Salvador hosts Panama as both teams look to climb a competitive CONCACAF table. La Selecta requires a sense of urgency after their September saw two home draws and a huge defeat at Canada to finish. Sharing the points against the USMNT and Honduras is all well and good to start, but the 3-0 defeat north of the border is a huge wake-up call.

El Salvador hosts Panama in Concacaf WCQ

While they are tied for fifth with two points along with Costa Rica and Honduras, El Salvador has more reasons to worry. Going into this October window, El Salvador has a -3 goal differential, tied for second-worst in the table. Also, they’re winless and have yet to score. The attacking output has been dire, to say the least. Moreover, Hugo Perez has injury concerns. Defender Eriq Zavaleta and Narciso Orellana will be game-time decisions with both suffering knocks. And despite calling up new faces, it’ll be the familiar ones that’ll have to kick start their campaign.

As for Panama, their September window couldn’t have gone any better. Two draws and a win have them tied for second with five points. Their latest draw at home against Mexico was a letdown considering they gave up the equalizer with 15 minutes to go. But, spirits remain high in what is a difficult October window for Las Canaleros. Away to El Salvador, home to the United States and away to Canada is the order. Lots of air miles, different time zones and other factors will test this group. But Thomas Christiansen has the horses required to get results.

Michael Murillo is a nice attacking outlet at fullback, while Anibal Godoy and Rolando Blackman provide more punch in midfield and attack respectively. The latter scored against Mexico and Jamaica. Moreover, their defense goes into this window as the most stout, only conceding once thus far.

El Salvador’s poor form heading into their game against Panama

That spells trouble for El Salvador. La Selecta hasn’t won since the 2021 Gold Cup group stage, 2-0 against Trinidad & Tobago. That was back in mid-July, just about three months ago. In the seven games since then, including two friendlies: four losses, three draws and shutout in six of those seven fixtures. On home soil is the best way to find solutions, pressing the opposition can only work for so long. Hugo Perez knows this, and Mario Gonzalez will have to shine once more in the net. It’s going to be a fascinating tactical battle to watch.

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