Tifo: Interview with Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo

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Panama national goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. Illustration ©Philippe Fenner for Tifo.

Being someone who loves a World Cup underdog (and goalkeepers of World Cup underdogs) there was no better story of qualification for Russia 2018 than that of Panama and Jaime Penedo.

Panama had never qualified for a World Cup finals before and Penedo had played for almost a decade, fearing it would never happen. And then, an unlikely series of results in the finals rounds of CONCACAF qualification saw Panama reach Russia 2018. Pandamonium followed on the streets of Panama City.

Penedo now plays his football for Dinamo Bucharest in Romania. I caught up with him one weekend and interviewed him about this incredible achievement for Tifo, which you can read here.

You can also hear more of that interview on the BBC World Service’s World Football. Also on that show you can hear my story about the wildest league in European football right now: the Romanian fourth division. Really!

NY Times: Ou est Bob Bradley?

Anyone who has read Thirty One Nil (or When For Friday comes for that matter) will know that the former US men’s national team coach Bob Bradley and I have crossed paths several times.

After being fired from the US job he went on to coach the Egyptian national team during the aftermath of the January 25 revolution.

From there he ended up in Norway coaching Stab√¶k, a tiny team who were expected to be relegated. Still, Bradley was the first American to coach a team in one of Europe’s top divisions. In his second season they finished third and qualified for the qualification rounds of the Europa League.

Still, Bradley moved on again, this time to Le Havre, France’s oldest club, in Ligue 2. The big job he so craves has eluded him, but I went to the French port city to discover that his ambition and drive remain undiminished.

Here’s a profile I wrote for the New York Times about his time in France.

There is also this radio report for the BBC World Service. Listen out for the some of the chants by Le Havre’s ultras, The Barbarians.

The club has British roots and if you listen closely you can hear God Save the Queen. With an important difference…