The Cuba team piles onto Jeniel Molina (bottom R) after he scored against Belize during their CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match in Hartford, Connecticut, July 16, 2013. (Photo : REUTERS/Dominick Reuter (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
Cuba will look to improve its run in the CONCACAF Gold Cup when it takes on Panama on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
The Cubans are coming off a tremendous 4-0 victory over Belize that earned them a last second playoff berth.
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"For me, it was like winning the World Cup," Cuban midfielder Ariel Martinez said according to CONCACF.com. "It was a great achievement for us and made very happy."
"We believe that this was the best game in the career of the national team," Cuba head coach Walter Benitez said after the victory. "We definitely felt very, very excited to get this result. We felt very proud of what we did tonight. The players knew that was one of the things that were going to help us. We embraced our Cuban jersey, our Cuban flag."
"As soon as we got to the locker room, the minister of sports gave us a call," he elaborated. "I was talking to him. He was congratulating the whole team. We were all happy. I communicated that to the guys so everybody was so happy they were in touch as soon as we won."
However, the Cubans know they have more work to do. The team was taken down 3-0 against Costa Rica before falling 4-1 against the United States. Remarkably, the team's play improved throughout the group stage. Prior to imploding for four goals against the Americans, Cuba held a 1-0 lead.
They will take on a Panamanian side that won Group A with two victories and one draw; the first victory came against a supposedly superior Mexican side. Panama also took down Martinique 1-0 before drawing 0-0 against Canada.
Prediction: Panama is the uncontested favorite in this contest. Look for them to pull off a 3-0 win.
Start Time: 3:30 PM EST
TV: Univision, Fox Soccer Channel