Panama don't deserve to be called World Cup's 'worst team' - coach

SARANSK, Russia -- Proud Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez reacted angrily to a suggestion his World Cup debutants were the "worst team" in Russia, insisting the 55th-ranked Central Americans had competed valiantly despite big disadvantages.

Panama fly home licking their wounds as one of only two nations to lose all three games, and also leave as the team with the most goals conceded and joint-fewest scored.

Speaking after his side's 2-1 loss to Tunisia on Thursday, Gomez rebuked a journalist who asked if Panama were the worst team at the tournament.

"That is a complete lack of respect," Gomez said.

"You shouldn't call us the worst team. We are the youngest team with most difficulties. How many pitches do we have? What kind of infrastructure do we have? ... Look at the history of the other countries here ... You should respect our team more."

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After heavy 3-0 and 6-1 losses to Belgium and England, respectively, Panama took the lead against Tunisia in Saransk, raising the prospect of a first-ever World Cup finals win.

Yet it was not to be as the North Africans came back in the second half to score twice and take third place in Group G in a match purely for pride given both teams were already eliminated.

"We were much more level in this match than in others," said Gomez, who insists Panama have learned massively from their experience in Russia and will have a bright future.

Asked about his personal future, the Colombian coach said he had been very happy leading Panama but did have other offers and would take his time to consider them.

"Now, I am quite tired as you will understand," he said.