The game had been going on for 38 minutes. The Cuban team was playing dangerously at the Pedro Marrero stadium of the capital. The Panamanian visitors could do little against their technical superiority. A pass filtered in the area. Team captain Alberto Gómez received the ball backwards to the goal, turned round and hit it almost at ground level. The ball “capriciously” entered the opponent’s net and the Cubans yelled as loud as they could the scream of “goal” they had silenced for 487 minutes in this world qualifying round.
In the end, Panama equaled the game and classified for the decisive hexagonal of the North, Central American and Caribbean Football Confederation, but surely the Cubans were thinking of nothing else but of having scored a goal, the most beautiful part of what is said to be the most beautiful sport in the world.
The Panamanian point arrived with an unexpected piece of play. A lost center hit the squad at the goal. An inexperienced goalkeeper, who had been doing well during the game, could not stop the devilish ball that bounced on the ground without anyone touching it and went up only enough to make the dreamers discard the possibility of a victory. So proud are Cubans in sports matters; they always want to win, await the miracle, and if necessary, light candles to all saints.
But Cuba scored a goal, and Beto Gómez became news, and the sub-20 players who entered the ground looked well, and four cornerstones deserted a few days ago in Canada, and I shall never see the Island’s team in a football world championship (excuse my pessimism, I hope they make me swallow the words at the 2018 championship).
Now Cuban football has set itself the target of the upcoming Caribbean Cup, whose first stage will begin on November 12. The intentions are to win that event, but these forecasts of goals and avoiding actions are – even at this level – quite laughable. And it is so because to become a champion in any football event, scoring a goal cannot be a dream; it has to be a many times repeated reality. I do hope they make me swallow these words, too.