O's McAnuff predicting Panama to pose tricky test for England
PUBLISHED: 15:00 20 June 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
The former Jamaica international has played against Panama twice and knows they can be a tough opponent on their day
Leyton Orient’s Jobi McAnuff has warned England not to underestimate Panama on Sunday in their second game in Group G at the 2018 World Cup.
The 36-year-old knows plenty about the Central America minnows after doing battle with them in the qualification campaign for this summer’s tournament during his time as a Jamaican international.
McAnuff faced Panama on two occasions, at home on November 14 2015 and away on September 3 2016, and was part of the Reggae Boyz side which lost both meetings 2-0.
He knows what to expect from the World Cup debutants and is sure England will find it difficult against them on Sunday (1pm kick-off), but is still backing Three Lions to find a way to win
“Belgium (June 28) will be a tricky game and Panama are in there,” said McAnuff, when talking to EnergyBet about his tips for the World Cup.
“I have actually played against Panama a few times and a lot will depend on what Panama turns up. I don’t think they will be a pushover.
“If they find their feet, it could be a tricky one, but England should beat them and they should get through the group.”
Although McAnuff played for Jamaica at international level, he was born in England and will be supporting the Three Lions in Russia.
Due to his history with the Reggae Boyz and the fact he has played in Central and South American competitions before, he is still hoping Panama will do themselves proud at the World Cup.
The Canal Men managed to hold Belgium until the break on Monday, but conceded three times in the second half to lose their opener 3-0.
McAnuff is hopeful they will continue to be a breath of fresh air, he added: “It is great someone like Panama have got through to the World Cup.
“Having played against them and in that side of the world, I know there is a lot of talent over there.
“Sometimes they just need a little bit of exposure because it is difficult in that region with USA and Mexico and they are two massive nations – Mexico when it comes to football history and USA with everything else.
“Costa Rica are a very good team as well, so it is refreshing to see Panama make it and I am pleased for them, especially because they are from a region I am used to playing in.
“It is great when a new team comes in and I am looking forward to the brand of football they will play.
“It will be very exciting, very quick and skilful and hopefully they can do themselves justice and be a real breath of fresh air.”