Panama's president Juan Carlos Varela has traveled half the world to lead an army of 5,000 fans from the Central American country for their inaugural World Cup match-up with Belgium.
“I am very happy to be with my team here today – the first time Panama is here at the World Cup,” Varela told RT outside the Fisht Stadium in Sochi. “I’ll be watching the game and then heading back to Panama.”
Despite being unable to stay for all three of Panama’s Group G matches, Varela, who last week met with Vladimir Putin, said he has already formed an impression of the host country.
Every World Cup in history has featured debuting teams, and Panama is one of two at Russia 2018, along with Iceland, which set an example to follow by holding Argentina to a draw in their opener.
Unfortunately, Panama were unable to hold onto their draw, letting in three second-half goals from the relieved Red Devils.