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.
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 Stabæk, 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.