Who? Panama - Tunisia
Where? Mordovia Arena, Saransk
When? June 28, 20:00 (CET local time)
Panama (Yossi Medina)
Panama just conceded six from England and nine in the whole tournament. In their first two matches they tried, but in the end they were far from the competitive level of their opponents. Yet, Panama presented during the game against England a name that everyone will know – Felipe Baloy.
He is not young as many in this World Cup, but since Sunday, Baloy will have eternal life as the first World Cup goalscorer of Panama. It's not obvious, because Baloy is actually playing as a defender. In the age of 37, Baloy find an international recognition.
During his career he played at the places that nobody think about. Except from playing in his home nation, he had short spells in Colombia and Brazil, before he arrived to Mexico. He spent more than a decade there and won two Mexican titles with Monterrey and Santos Laguna.
As Panama national team player he played in four Gold Cups. At his first campaign in 2005 he was part from a team that reached all the way to the historic final against USA. In the final, Panama couldn't handle USA and lost in penalty shooutout 1:3, as Baloy was the only player of Panama that converted his kick.
With a long history, Felipe Baloy is now part of another great moment for his nation. Panama is defeated, but still proud. Now they will face their last challenge – winning in the World Cup for the first time.
Tunisia (Uri Levy)
The final game of the group stage is taking place in one of the most rare cities the World Cup ever took place at - Saransk. Saransk is a city of around 330,000 habitants in Mordovia, a county in the eastern part of Russia. In series of articles before the World Cup, the English Independent described Saransk as ‘Strange’, mentioning that the city has no club in Russina Premier League, and highlighted the unpleasant past of the city as a Gulag centre. For Soviet Russia’s dissident movement, Mordovia was instantly associated with the Gulag. The first camps appeared there as early as the 1930s; for a while after 1960 it the only region housing “dangerous” political enemies of the Soviet state. With this cargo, Saransk will host one of the last matches of this World Cup group stage - Tunisia against Panama.
The Tunisians are already eliminated, but among the four Arab representatives she probably impressed the most. Gave a great fight to England, lost with pride & style against Belgium and all is left is to grab a first World Cup victory since 1978, against tiny but lovely Panama.
For the Tunisians this World Cup wouldn’t be entitled as a great success, but coach Nabil Maaloul has told the media that the effort that the players have put in to the trainings and games has nothing but make the Tunisian people proud. After losing its two stars, bringing in young or anonymous replacement - the Tunisians has managed to score three goals and did not broke apart against European rivals like Egypt or Saudi Arabia.
A victory in Saransk and it might count as a good tournament for the Carthage Eagles, and they will be remembered as the team who had no fear, despite the odds that were against them. But if they lose, nobody will remember the good minutes against England or Belgium. They will forever be those who arranged the Panamanians their first ever victory in the competition. The ball is in their legs.