Panama manager Hernan Gomez mulls retirement after Mexico heartbreak
ATLANTA -- Panama coach Hernan "Bolillo" Gomez questioned whether he would continue in the game after his team lost 2-1 to Mexico after extra time of the Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday that included a controversial penalty decision.
Los Canaleros, who had gone down to 10 players in the 25th minute, were leading 1-0 against Mexico in Atlanta as regulation time wound down and seemed comfortable. However, the referee gave a handball in the penalty area against defender Roman Torres. Replays showed it was a harsh decision.
"It almost makes you think about retiring from football," Gomez said. "In one moment of the game I thought about it."
At the start of his mandatory news conference, Gomez refused to talk, indicating he was too emotional. When he did, he was fierce in his criticism, while making sure not to blame Mexico's players or coach.
"Logically I hope that all the media understand that what I am experiencing right now is difficult and hard," Gomez admitted after the loss. "The press, more than us, are aware that things did not function well, in the legal way. Panama made an outstanding effort, with 10 men.
"I have been managing teams since 1987, and this is the first time that I experience this. With a team well worked, with athletes desiring to give their country another Gold Cup final, with a press that has accompanied and helped us out.
"If it was up to me, I could say 'I do not want to continue in soccer anymore.' It is a stain on football, it's horrible, a robbery. I clean [the names of] Mexico's players, it was nothing to do with them. They deserve to be champions."
Gomez also revealed his players had wanted to come off the field in disgust at the decision after Mexico was awarded another late and dubious penalty in their quarterfinal match to overcome Costa Rica 1-0.
"There were two great teams on the pitch tonight, each team exhibiting good styles," said Gomez. "The Mexican players or the team have nothing to do with what happened. You cannot damage a final like this. When you put a team with 10 players against a team with 11 players, it hurts the game.
"However, I value more the capacity of the Panamanian players, for they played a tactical game against an immense rival with good possession of the ball that is Mexico. And Panama held its ground, and at times it was able to attack, and then we are up 1-0.
"And then on minute 88 the penalty happened; you cannot determine a final in that manner. It damages the tournament, the final loses, it loses the spectacle and beauty."
Panama striker Luis Tejada, who was sent off early for raising his arm towards Francisco "Maza" Rodriguez, told press in Atlanta that Andres Guardado, who netted Mexico's late equalizer, should have purposely missed the penalty.
"If he had put it wide, he would've won more by putting in it," Tejada said, who also suggested that there may be some doubt over whether Panama travels to Philadelphia for their consolation playoff on Saturday versus the United States.
Guardado later told CBS: "I thought about it, but one has to be professional. We've been on the other side."
Meanwhile, Panama defender Adolfo Machado said CONCACAF got exactly "what they wanted" and can now celebrate.
"Now play the final and... CONCACAF fill their pockets," he said following the match.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.