Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz remain in a tough position to make next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, despite coming from behind to secure a 1-1 stalemate with Panama in their penultimate qualifying fixture at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Marta Cox gave Panama a 31st-minute lead from the penalty spot, but that was cancelled out by Shaneil Buckley's 45th minute strike, which ensured the Jamaicans a share of the spoils.

With the point, Panama inched up to seven points and booked their spot in the inaugural women's Gold Cup, while the Jamaicans, who were earning their second point, must beat second-placed Guatemala (four points) on Sunday to get into the Gold Cup prelims.

Though disappointed that they didn't secure all three points on this occasion, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert is backing his team to get by Guatemala on Sunday.

"It was a competitive game, unfortunately things didn't go entirely according to plan, of course we wanted to win, but we also wanted to ensure that we didn't lose tonight, that was our first objective.  We are still in with a shot with just have to get the job done against Guatemala, in terms of speed and depth, we have a better unit and so I fancy our chances more against Guatemala," Gilbert said in a post-match interview.

The contest started at a decent tempo with the Jamaicans using their pace and athleticism to exploit the wide channels, as they were more threatening in open play, but were unable to make the most of their half chances.

In the ninth Melissa Johnson broke down the right channel and should have at least tested Yenith Bailey in goal for Panama, but the build-up was undone by indecision.

Nine minutes later, Buckely broke down the right and played a pass inside, and Davia Richards couldn't connect at close range.

Panama patiently played their game and went close in the 28th minute when Cox played a through pass in for Natalia Mills, but Serena Mensah, in goal for Jamaica, left her line well to avert the danger.

However, the visitors were given the opportunity to break the deadlock when Lauren Reid seemingly got ball in a challenge on Mills, but Honduran referee Melissa Borjas Pastrana awarded the penalty, which Cox converted.

The Reggae Girlz probe for the equalizer came on the stroke of half-time when a weighted cross from the left by Malikae Dayes was well finished by Buckley from close range.

Gilbert's side again started purposeful and applied consistent pressure throughout but didn't really put anything meaningful on goal.

In fact, there best effort of the stanza came in the 68th when Njeri Butts cross inside was skipped by captain Chinyelu Asher for Marlo Sweatman, whose shot lacked the power to beat Bailey.

From there, but teams nullified each other, as their search for the winner proved fruitless.

"I don't think we did anything wrong; we just didn't score. We have to score goals to win games and we just didn't get on the scoresheet when we got our chances," Gilbert said, as he also fielded questions about the substitutions.

"We are in a different dynamic from the other teams. They are playing one game and they are finished, while we are playing two games in five days. I know what I am working with, we had to be smart in terms of our approach to each game, so we couldn't be erratic and make a number of substitutions here, I also understand the situation that we are in and we are just going to give it our all on Sunday," he declared.  

Interim Reggae Girlz Head Coach Xavier Gilbert is well aware of the need for his players not only maintain their focus, but also to execute efficiently and consistently for the next over 180-plus minutes, if they are to achieve the desired results in two must-win Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures.

The first will be against a gritty Panama outfit that will be riding high on the fact that they defeated the Jamaicans 2-1 in their first meeting and, more importantly, hold pole position in Group B on six points, which means they only need a point at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Kickoff is at 7:00pm.

For Gilbert and his Girlz, who sit at the foot of the three-team table on a point, the objective is pretty straightforward –win and they are into the group stages of next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.

But the tactician is well aware that it is much easier said than done and, as such, is cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances of taking three points at home, before visiting second-placed Guatemala (four points) away, on Sunday.

“We had three good sessions, and things went well, one player joined us let, but apart from that, all the players have settled in well. They know what is at stake, and you can tell by the mood in the camp that they are ready to give it their best shot,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“They have responded well to our request in terms of adjustment to the system of play, which is good, so what we did, was use the final session (on Tuesday) to tighten up on a few things and areas in which believe we need to strengthen. So, I am optimistic that once they execute how we want them to, we will come out with a positive result,” he added.

Should the Reggae Girlz defeat Panama, it would mean all three teams in the group, could take the top spot, and the outcome would rely on Sunday’s clash between Guatemala and the Jamaicans.

While finishing tops is the priority, the second-placed team would also have a second shot at Gold Cup qualification, as they would enter the preliminary phase of the tournament to oppose to group winners from League’s B and C.

That means, the Girlz could draw with Panama and then beat Guatemala to book the runner-up spot. But, that is no comfort to Gilbert, who is hoping to get the job done the right way.

“The game was a couple of weeks ago. This is a different situation and different circumstances. There is some unrest in their country, I am not sure if that has affected them mentally on this occasion, but we just have to be on our A game,” Gilbert said as he reflected on their away loss to Panama.

“We have to be better than what we were in the last game, and I am sure Panama is also looking to do better, so it's going to be extremely tough for us. Obviously, we've looked at a few things that we're looking to implement as we look to impose more of our will on the game,” he noted.

Gilbert, who is still without his World Cup players due to a prolonged standoff with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), is making do with a squad that boasts more youth than experience –2019 World Cup veterans Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman being the experience.

Still, the likes of Ricshya Walker, Melissa Johnson and Zoe Vidaurre, who all scored in the last window, are very much capable of doing more damage.

Panama will turn to their core group of playmakers in Riley Tanner, Marta Cox and Lineth Cedeno to get the job done, and Gilbert is very much wary of that and is aiming to nullify the trio.

“We are still working to finalize the best 11, so far, we are close to it, but there are still some other pieces to put in place. But the overall expectation heading into the game is to make sure that we get something out of it, which is our objective, and then we will see how it goes,” Gilbert ended.

Stand-in captain Allyson Swaby scored Jamaica’s first goal of the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup and second ever at the global showpiece, as the Reggae Girlz secured an historic win with a 1-0 scoreline over Concacaf rivals Panama at Perth Rectangular Stadium in Australia on Saturday.

Swaby’s all-important strike, her second ever for the Reggae Girlz, came in the 56th minute of a lively encounter, which the Jamaicans expectedly dominated for the most part.

In fact, the Girlz could have won by a wider margin, as they were fluent in their buildups and produced a few colourful plays in patches, however, a combination of faulty shooting, poor decision-making and some good glove work by Yenith Bailey in goal for Panama, denied them.

Swaby, who along with her younger sister Chantelle was the heart of Jamaica’s defence, was almost emotional about the entire outcome.

The win pushed the Girlz up to four points in Group, same as leaders France, who earlier defeated Brazil 2-1. The Brazilians, who entered the match day on top with three points, have been relegated to third and will lock horns with Jamaica in what will be a decisive contest on August 2.

“This is something that you dream about when you play in a World Cup and I am so happy that I could do it and be the difference maker today,” she said in a post-game interview.

“They (Panama) played really well, that was definitely the hardest match we have played against them and its exciting because it means that Concacaf is growing, and this tournament is just showing that.

“But the win is huge, it keeps our dream of getting out of this group alive and we know we have one more game to fight through and we are just happy to be in a position to compete in this group,” she added.

Given the absence of talismanic captain Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, Head coach Lorne Donaldson made three changes, as Tiffany Cameron came in at right back, while Kayla McKenna and Trudi Carter joined Jody Brown in the three-pronged attack.

With Panama playing a defensive 5-4-1 formation, the 43rd-ranked Reggae Girlz were expected to rely on their pace and athleticism down the channels to possibly breakdown the backline.

After Panama fired the first warning shot in the fifth minute, the Reggae Girlz settled into their game and offered a quick response when Atlanta Primus’ pass over the top found Cameron, whose left-footed shot after a brief melee, went wide of the right upright.

The Girlz again went close when Drew Spence sent McKenna on her way and the former Rangers forward played a weighted pass across the six-yard box for the arriving Carter, whose effort was deflected wide.

The resulting corner floated in by Carter also presented another opportunity, but a left-footed effort by Primus was blocked by a defender.

As they continued to apply consistent pressure, the Girlz created a few more half chances, two of which came in quick succession, as Spence fired a 33rd-minute effort into the sidnetting, and two minutes later Vyan Sampson’s shot from a distance was well saved by Bailey diving full stretch to her left.

Panama was not without hope, as they tried to play their game and were almost gifted a goal through some sloppy defending, fortunately for the Jamaicans Marta Cox’s effort from deep inside the 18-yard box, lacked any real pace to beat Rebecca Spencer.

Much like they started the half, the Jamaicans also ended on a high but still without the breakthrough, as Spence’s well-taken free kick from just over 20 yards out, was tipped unto the crossbar and by Bailey, who ensured it remained goalless at the break.

Though absorbing some pressure at the top of the resumption, the Girlz later asserted their authority and again went close when Carter’s effort deflected wide by a defender.

The resulting corner again taken by Carter was expertly met and headed in by captain Swaby, giving Bailey no chance at a save.

Jamaica should have doubled the lead a minute past the hour mark, when Brown played a delightful through-pass to McKenna, who dismissed the advancing Bailey. But the striker sporting the number 22 jersey had a heavy first touch that pushed her too wide to get a shot off.

After pressing and probing, the Jamaicans thought they would have inevitably got a second from the penalty spot when Spence’s shot from outside the 18-yard box was handled inside the red zone. However, the decision to award the 12-yard kick was overturned by Ukrainian referee Kateryna Monzul on a VAR review in time added.

Teams: Jamaica –Rebecca Spencer, Vyan Sampson, Allyson Swaby, Chantelle Swaby, Deneisha Blackwood, Atlanta Primus (Peyton McNamara 87th), Trudi Carter (Cheyna Matthews 65th), Drew Spence, Tiffany Cameron (Tiernny Wiltshire 87th), Jody Brown (Solai Washington 80th), Kayla McKenna (Kameron Simmonds 80th)

Subs not used: Sydney Schneider, Liya Brooks, Konya Plummer, Havana Solaun, Kalyssa Van Zanten, Paige Bailey-Gayle,

Booked: Blackwood (31st)

Panama –Yenith Bailey, Wendy Natis, Katherine Castillo, Yomira Pinzon, Deysire Salazar (Aldrith Quintero 46th), Emily Cedeno, Schiandra Gonzalez (Carmen Montenegro 78th), Marta Cox, Riley Tanner, Lineth Cedeno (Karla Riley 64th), Carina Baltrip-Reyes (Hilary Jaen 87th)

Subs not used: Farissa Cordoba, Sasha Fabrega, Nicole De Obaldia, Erik Hernandez, Laurie Batista, Rebeca Espinosa, Rosario Vargas, Natalia Mills,

Booked: E Cedeno (13th), Salazar (18th)

Referee: Kateryna Monzul (UKR)

Assistant referees: Maryna Striletska (UKR); Paulina Baranowska (POL)

Fourth official: Akhona Makalima (RSA)

Panama's Team Guide

July 18, 2023

Sportsmax.tv continues its build-up towards the FIFA Women's World Cup with some insight on Panama's team to the July 20 to August 20 global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand.

Written by José Miguel Domínguez Flores


Panama’s journey to their first World Cup appearance began at the 2018 Concacaf Championships, where a defeat to Jamaica on penalties in the third-place playoff meant they missed out on qualification for France 2019. That tournament, though, was a watershed for players such as Lineth Cedeño, Karla Riley, Hilary Jaén, Yenith Bailey, Marta Cox and Wendy Natis, who have played a key role in getting Panama to the big show this time around. 

The road was not easy, and Panama were forced into the intercontinental playoffs in February this year. Papua New Guinea were seen off 2-0 in the semi-finals before a meeting with Paraguay in the final. Cedeño’s 75th-minute header was enough for a 1-0 win and a history-making qualification. "We will prepare 10 times better because we will face the best in the world,” said the manager Nacho Quintana, who took over in 2021. “We will measure ourselves against Brazil and France and this should keep us even more motivated."

Apart from leading the Panama to their first Women’s World Cup, Quintana has also fought for equal opportunities and salaries between the men's and women's teams. He likes to play a 5-4-1 formation and says the World Cup “is the beginning of the real project we have”.

The tournament will be a learning experience for the squad. Results in the warm-up matches have not been great and included a 7-0 defeat against Spain, so there is little chance of the side qualifying from the group stage. However, in a World Cup there are always teams that surprise, and Panama could be one of them.

The coach

Before joining Panama, Ignacio “Nacho” Quintana was a technical assistant for the Nicaragua women’s team and coached at teams such as Reforma Athletic Club and Lioness FC. Born in Mexico City, Quintana says he retired from playing at the age of 18 and immediately turned his attentions to coaching, though he also studied gastronomy before turning to football full-time, and eventually earned the A-license as a technical director. Says he wants his team to play with a smile during the tournament. “We can't lose that happiness,” he told fifa.com. “That's always our No 1 rule because that happiness which runs through the country, which you get a sense of in every street when you're in Panama, is something we need to convey out on the pitch so that the people of Panama feel we're representing them properly.” 

Star player

Marta Cox is the star of the team. The midfielder was introduced to football by her aunt Raiza Gutierrez, who was captain of the national team in the late 1990s and made her debut for Panama’s under-20 team aged just 14. She has gone on to win the league title with Chorrillo FC and CD Universitario and became the first Panamanian player to win the Costa Rica women's league when with Alajuelense. In 2021 she became the first Panamanian to play in the Mexican Women's MX League with Club León and in 2022 the first Panamanian to play for Pachuca Femenil, where she shares a dressing room with elite players such as Spain’s Jenni Hermoso. Cox is an idol for girls from poor neighborhoods who see in her an inspiration that it is possible to travel the world and play football regardless of social class.

Rising star

A move to Europe in the near future is not out of the question for 18-year-old Deysiré Salazar. The player from Colón has excelled for the national side since making her debut in 2020 and is already a league champion with her club side Tauro. She could go on to be one of the most important players in Panamanian football history and is on the radar of clubs in the US.

Did you know?

Forward Karla Riley – nicknamed “the Empress of Goal” – wears different coloured boots while playing in support of children with Down’s syndrome.

Standing of women's football in Panama

Panamanian women's football has had many changes, some negative and others very positive, but today there are infant and youth leagues and there are more and more academies and teams dedicated to women's football. The semi-professional Women's Football League (LFF), founded in 2017, seeks to provide a base for the players, but faces challenges such as lack of broadcasting. Furthermore, the fact that there is only one tournament a year, in contrast to the two tournaments in men's football, limits the development of the 398 registered players.

Realistic goal

The main aim is to leave a plant a seed, either as a group or individually, for future World Cups. The Panamanian Soccer Federation president Manuel Arias has highlighted the potential for inspiring the next generation of players. “I want Panamanian football to have professional contracts, for the players to be high-performance athletes and to make a living from soccer like the European players," said Marta Cox.

Sportsmax.tv continues its build-up towards the FIFA Women's World Cup with some insight on Panama's team to the global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand.

Written by Roberto Rivera for Datitos TV

Name: Farissa Córdoba

Position: Goalkeeper

Date of birth 30 June 1989

Club: Ñañas Club, Ecuador

The goalkeeper was one of the last called up to the squad – edging out Stephani Vargas as the likely third choice – and something of a surprise as she wasn’t part of the play-offs squad in February, or the friendlies in mid-June. However, she does have experience within the national setup, having played in the 2018 Concacaf Championship and the World Cup qualifiers that finished a year ago. Graduated from Panama’s metropolitan university of science and technology in electrical engineering and also from the technology university of Panama in mechanical engineering, so it is no surprise to hear her nickname is “the engineer”.  She has also played in Guatemala, Costa Rica and, more recently, Maccabi Holon in Israel. When Panama qualified for the World Cup she wrote: “I applaud my colleagues who fulfilled the dreams of past generations.” She can now live that dream in New Zealand and Australia. 

Name: Yenith Bailey 

Date of birth: 29 March 2001

Position: Goalkeeper 

Team: Tauro Panama

Profile: She played as a midfielder until 2017 when Víctor Suárez, the current head of youth football in Panama, persuaded her to start playing in goal and she hasn’t looked back. In the Concacaf W Championship of 2018 she won the Golden Glove – age 17 – for best goalkeeper of the tournament with 24 saves, including a string of stops against the United States. None other than the US great Hope Solo singled her out for praise that summer, saying she hoped Panama would reach the 2019 World Cup because Bailey deserved to be there. It didn’t happen then, but she will be there in Australia and New Zealand. “That tournament made me realise I could be a professional,” Bailey said. She has had stints in Colombia and Paraguay, where she played in the Copa Libertadores. Her brother José Gonzales has played professionally. A favourite of the fans for her whole-hearted efforts.

Name: Sasha Fábrega 

Position: Goalkeeper

Date of birth: October 23, 1990

Team: CA Independiente, Panama

Decided to finish her studies before dedicating herself totally to football and she graduated as a physiotherapist, something that naturally helps her in her current profession. Her Instagram feed is full of punishing workouts as she gets ready for the World Cup. Fábrega, who made her national team debut in January 2020 against the USA, was at Tauro in Panama but a lot of competition meant she moved to look for more first-team football at CAI, one of the best clubs in her country. And she doesn’t need to look any further than home for her biggest supporters. “My parents are the most important people in my life. They guide me to be better every day, their support is unconditional, and they encourage me to pursue my goals and dreams. They make me feel loved and greatly valued."

Name Katherine Castillo 

Date of birth: 23 March 1996

Position: Defender

Team: Tauro

One of the few in the Panama team to have played in Argentina, an experience that helped her improve a lot in her position as a full-back. She can get forward and adds an attacking threat in the air in the opposition’s penalty box. She is one of the manager’s most reliable players and gives peace of mind to her fellow defenders, having made her debut in the senior team in 2018. She attributes her success in football to several things, including a four-legged pet. “The important people in my life are God, who always gives me the strength and desire to move forward, and, above all, my partner, who has been encouraging me at every moment since day one. And I also want to mention my little dog, which is the most precious thing I have, and my family."

Name: Rosario Vargas


Date of birth 9 August 2002

Team: Rayo Vallecano Spain

One of the youngest in the squad but with an interesting career already, having played in youth teams in Madrid and Valencia. She also had a spell in Costa Rica in the 2017-18 season, although she now plays for Rayo Vallecano, another Madrid-based team. At national level, she was in the squad for the Under-20 Concacaf Women’s Championship, where Panama was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Canada. But by then she had already attracted the attention of the senior team and she made her debut in Tokyo in a friendly against Japan in April 2021 (sadly a 7-0 defeat). For her the World Cup will be an incredible experience. She said: “I'm psyched up for New Zealand. From everything that happens in life we must learn to get the positive and make ourselves stronger and continue to grow.”

Name: Hilary Jaén 

Position: Defender

Date of birth August 29, 2002

Club: Tauro

From a family of Panamanian singers, Hilary instead put her efforts into football – playing on concrete pitches with her cousins – and she quickly showed she was a precocious talent, being the only girl in a team when she was seven years old. “That was a good experience,” she says, “because you achieve more. I had to raise the intensity of my game.” She began to represent her country and moved through the various youth levels before making her debut for the senior team in 2018 in their last World Cup qualifier. She studied business administration and has already gone through the university leagues in the USA, playing for South Alabama Jaguars and Jones County Bobcats, although she is now with Tauro in her home country. “Studying is a very important part of my life because I want to show that you can study and play at the same time."

Name: Yomira Pinzón

Position: Defender

Date of birth 23 August 1996

Team: Saprissa, Costa Rica

Has been playing in Costa Rica for two years now, the centre-back nicknamed Yomi first foray abroad was in Spain with Pozoalbense. She then returned home and won two league titles with Atlético Nacional. She made her debut for the senior team at the age of 21 in 2017 and is a regular under the current coach Nacho Quintana. Reaching the World Cup, she says, was “a really big happiness and emotion. This was a dream for me and my teammates.” And her family are incredibly important to her: “My parents are always there and will always support me, like my sisters, they are the most important people in my life. And my brother: he is very special to me: I play football for him. I want to dedicate the qualification for the World Cup to him.”

Name Carina Baltrip-Reyes 

Position: Defender

Date of birth: 1 July 1998

Club: Maritimo, Portugal

She started playing football at the age of three when her father gave her her first boots and from there, she never looked back. The defender who can play anywhere across the back currently plays for Maritimo, on the Portuguese island of Madeira. But her career in Europe started in the Serbian league with Spartak Subotica, where she stayed for four months, gaining Champions League experience, but she left in December 2021, moving on to Houston Dash in Texas. She played her first match with the national team in October 2021 against Trinidad and Tobago. Full of energy, she can make powerful runs from her own area all the way up either flank. Born in Austin, Texas to a Panamanian father and American mother, she studied in Florida, where she graduated in biology and then received a master's degree in sports administration. 

Rebeca Espinosa 

Date of birth 5 July 1992

Position: Defender

Team: Sporting San Miguelito, Panama

Her sister Marjorie was the person in her family who taught her, age 11, to play in her home province of Chiriquí, but she never forgets her late brother, Riquelme. “He is my reason to fight for my dreams,” she says. Today her husband is the support: “Ever since I’ve known him, he has always backed me unconditionally and has understood what this beautiful sport means to me.” She played in Paraguay, for Club Sol de América, where she ended up facing her compatriot, Yenith Bailey, in a decisive league game - “it was beautiful,” says Espinosa. She made her debut with the national team in October 2018 in a World Cup qualifier against Canada but was on the losing side. Now, facing up to finally playing in the tournament, she looks back on how far the team has come. “These are the second chances we get in life,” she says. She is one of Nacho Quintana’s most important players and was part of the back five in the historic playoff win against Paraguay in February.

Name: Nicole de Obaldía 

Position: Defender 

Date of Birth: 16 March 2000

Team: Herediano, Costa Rica

Well-known in her country, not only for her football but also because of her presence on social networks and, because of her high profile, being sponsored by big brands. She joined Chorrillo FC in Panama City where she matured as a player and then moved to Tauro, the biggest team in women's football in Panama. She won the league and then joined Plaza Amador, Tauro's arch-rival, for a season before going to play in Costa Rica, where she has also won the league. At national level, she has worked her way up through all the youth categories and made her senior team debut on 21 September 2021. Pinki, as she is known by her friends, is working her way to qualify as a football coach and she has a very clear message: “I tell all the girls, don't give up on your sports dreams and never stop studying.”

Name Wendy Natis 

Position: Defender

Date of birth: 19 August 2002

Team: América de Cali, Colombia

Grew up playing volleyball, basketball and wrestling but only took up football when she was 16. Still, despite her age and relative lack of experience, she is already one of the most important players in the team. She was in the Under-20 Concacaf Women’s Championship team in 2022 that reached the quarterfinals. She had made her senior debut by then already, in February 2021. She was back playing for the seniors in the 2022 Concacaf W Championship that served as a qualifying tournament for this World Cup. When it came to the play-offs earlier this year, she was a rock at the back, playing both games, as Panama did not concede a goal. Nicknamed the Wall, she has been vital for her club as well, becoming the first Panamanian to win the Colombian women’s league. “Respecting my teammates with whom I lived and respecting the rules of the club made it easier for me to adapt in Colombia,” she says.

Name: Marta Cox 

Date of birth: 20 July 1997

Team: Pachuca Mexico

Position: Midfielder 

Profile: From a neighbourhood in Panama City called Chorrillo, Cox is the captain and the respected leader of the Canalera and that is why at almost 26 she already has more than 50 caps. She has played in Colombia and Costa Rica and became the first foreigner to play for Pachuca when she signed two years ago. From midfield she pairs her playmaking with an eye for goal – scoring a spectacular bicycle kick in the 2-0 playoff semi-final win against Papua New Guinea in February – and is not afraid to shoot from distance with her powerful left foot. She says: “I realised since I was very young that I could be a footballer, even if not a pro. But I never stopped pushing my sporting boundaries and I think that is what has made me who I am today.” She has set her sights on even greater things at club level. “I want to be among the best and play in an even more professional league. Then I can prepare myself for university and have my own business.”

Name: Carmen Montenegro

Position: Midfielder

Date of birth: 5 December 2000

Team: Sporting San Miguelito

A very skilful young player who was part of the group that won the play-off final in February despite her limited international experience. Yet she was on the outside looking in a year ago, a ready deputy in case of an emergency. That was a time when she put in a lot of effort, waiting for her chance. That came when Nacho Quintana tried her out in midfield and it was a revelation, as she had been a striker up to then. “I feel really good in this position,” she says. “And I’ve improved physically as well as technically.” She took up the game when she was 12 but preferred baseball when growing up. She studies physical education and wants to work in sport when she stops playing. Her middle name is Milagro, which means miracle.

Name Schiandra González 

Date of birth 4 July 1995

Position: Midfielder

Team: Tauro

Started out on the right-wing but under the national coach Nacho Quintana she moved centrally and deeper to play as more of a midfield ball-winner. She has a long history with her national team, playing in the 2012 Concacaf Under-17 Championship, and making her debut with the seniors in March 2018 against Trinidad and Tobago. Playing for her country is something she never takes for granted. “It is very big what I am living. It is a dream that I never imagined would touch me. I want to fulfill it with all my might, for myself and for the whole country. I really like the group; it is very happy and focused at the same time.” Born in the western province of Chiriquí although raised in Panama City,she calls her dogs “her daughters”. They play a big part in her Instagram feed, including giving them ice lollies. 

Name: Emily Cedeño 

Position: Midfield

Date of birth: 22 November 2003

Team: Plaza Amador, Panama

She took up the game when she was three and a few years later began to play futsal and by the age of 14 was playing for Panama’s Under-15s. Her parents supported her all the way, telling her to strive hard if she wanted to succeed. “The dream I had when I was a little girl playing with friends in the street, I’m able to say I’ve achieved it now,” she says. “I hope I can be an example to all those young boys and girls.” She did not feature in the qualifiers in the summer of 2022 but was then called up for all the mini training camps in the buildup to the play-offs in New Zealand in February. She made her debut with the senior team in a friendly in October 2022. And now: “I’m going to play in Panama’s first World Cup – it is something that I could not believe.”

Name: Aldrith Quintero 

Position: Midfielder

Date of birth: 1 January 2002

Team: Alhama FC, Spain

Quintero earned a place in this team, as she puts it, for her daily work and her improvement since she moved to Europe, first playing for Tenerife and now with Alhama FC in Murcia. She is the first woman from her country to play in Spain’s first division. Her father and brother played in a team called Tierra Firme in the lower leagues in Panama. Her mother Laura Marie was her motivation and the person who took her to all the training sessions as a child. First though, athletics was her main sport, especially long jump, but she complained to her mother about doing it. Her mother once told young Aldrith that she didn’t know how to play football but changed her mind after watching the girl play. Something of a prodigy, she made her debut in the national team in December 2017, one month shy of her 16th birthday. She said reaching the World Cup “was her dream come true as a girl”. 

Name: Deysiré Salazar 

Position: Midfielder

Date of birth: 4 May 2004

Team: Tauro

She is one of the youngest and smallest in the national team but with a giant heart. Born in Rio Alejandro in the province of Colón, where José Fajardo, a striker for the men’s national team, also comes from. She started playing at the age of six and soon her love for football was noticeable. Her mother Amayansi said that she had to look for her because she only spent her time out on the pitch, although she never neglected her studies. She currently plays for Tauro and at only 17 was the best player in the championship, while she has also been captain of the Under-20 team. For her, football is freedom. “When I play football I feel like a fish in water, I am free, I forget about all the problems. I am happy. And at that time, it was already clear to me what it meant to play for the national team. It is a source of pride and a great responsibility.”

Name Laurie Batista 

Position: Midfielder

Date of birth 29 May 1996

Club: Taurus

Her nickname is GPS, which tells you a lot about the captain of Tauro, the biggest team in the country. She is one of the most complete players in Panamanian football and has played for the national team at every age level. Although the defensive midfielder did not make the squad for the play-offs, she has been recalled since qualification and is one of the players to watch. She admits not being involved earlier this year was the lowest she has felt in her career. She said: “It was difficult not going to the play-offs, but it was a joy to see that my teammates qualified. I’m now happy for the call from the coach and I have to work to earn a place.” Her reason for getting into the sport? “My brothers, from a very young age. My family is very proud of me for achieving my dreams.”

Name: Riley Tanner 

Position: Forward

Date of birth: 15 October 1999

Club: Washington Spirit


Fast and with great ball control, Tanner scored the second goal in Panama’s 2-0 semi-final playoff win against Papua New Guinea as they sought to qualify for their first World Cup. Her nickname is Frozen because of her resemblance to Elsa, from the film. Born in the United States but qualifies as her mother was born in Panama, she studied and played in her native Michigan and currently plays in the US professional league. She graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in public health. She realised she had made instant new friends when she was in her first training camp with Panama in January as she found out she had been picked in the draft by Spirit. She says: “That moment was when my dreams became reality. I took the draft call in the bathroom and when I came out everyone dogpiled me. Being new to the Panama team, just having that support from them was really special and made me feel like I was a part of their team.”

Name: Lineth Cedeño 

Date of birth: 5 December 2000

Position: Forward

Team: Sporting San Miguelito, Panama


Wrote her name in her country’s football history for her play-off final goal against Paraguay in February. It was the only goal of the match and one that put Panama in the Women’s World Cup for the first time. At the age of 22, she has more than 40 caps and has broadened her horizons by playing in Spain and then two years in Italy, for Verona and Sampdoria. Her time with Samp did not go so well, ending eight months early and without a goal or an assist. Affectionately known as “the stick” because of her thin build, she is a penalty-box predator, although due to her speed she can also play on the wings. Always has a smile on her face. Was left out of the squad for the two friendlies in the second half of June as Nacho Quintana decided to look at a few other contenders for the World Cup squad.

Name: Erika Hernández

Date of birth: 17 March 1999

Position: Forward 

Team: Plaza Amador


When Yomira Pinzón was asked how she would cope for a whole month in February, away from home, for the play-offs, she replied: “We have Erika.” Her Panama teammates call her Siri because of the amount she talks and is known as the most upbeat and lively member of the squad. She has played in Argentina, at the Buenos Aires club Uai Urquiza, which she says helped her development. On the pitch she can drop a bit deeper to get involved in the play but she is at her most effective in the box. In addition to playing football, she is studying to be a physical education teacher. She loves social media and has gone viral more than once with her dancing. Sponsors also love her to give talks because of her ease when it comes to communicating. 

Name Natalia Mills 

Position: Forward

Date of birth: 22 March 1993

Ld Alajuelense, Costa Rica

La Capi, as Natalia is called, is the veteran of the team who has come out of retirement, having hung up her boots for the national team in 2019 when they did not qualify for the France World Cup. She played in all the youth categories of the Panama national team before making her debut for the senior team aged 20. Her mother has provided her with all the support she has ever needed. She says: “Ask me about an important person in my life I have to mention my mother, Beatriz Urnaga. She is everything to me. She is the one who has always been with me at all times, in good times and bad. She always supports me unconditionally, without judging me.” When she does finally retire, she wants to stay in the game and help find new talent so that women's football in Panama continues to grow.

Name Karla Riley 

Position: forward 

Date of birth 18 September 1997

Team: Sporting FC, Costa Rica

Her attributes have earned her the nickname “the empress of goal” and she has taken her talents around the world. She went to Pozoalbense in Spain, has played for Tauro in her home country and, in 2022, Cruz Azul in Mexico. She made her debut for the senior team in February 2017 and has more than 30 caps. She believes the team has made the most of their time since they qualified. “We have five months of preparation that we did not have before. Those who play in Panama have worked like never before and have got stronger thanks to the training camps.” She has lent her support to all women in football around the world. A post on Instagram had her voice coming from an empty chair, saying: “Does it surprise you not to see me? This is how thousands of players around the world feel. We need you to see us, respect us and support us more than ever. This is our real fight.”


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