Panama wins opener of CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying

CARY, N.C. (AP) — Marta Cox, Kenia Rangel and Erika Hernandez all scored to give Panama a 3-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in the group stage of the CONCACF Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament Thursday.

Panama, ranked 66th in the world by FIFA, was making just its third appearance in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. Los Canaleros finished second behind Costa Rica in Central American qualifying to earn a spot in the field.

The game was the first of a double-header for Group A, followed by the United States against Mexico. The top three finishers in the eight-team tournament earn berths for next summer’s World Cup in France. The fourth-place finisher will face Argentina in a playoff for a spot.

Cox scored in the 11th minute and Rangel added her goal in the 68th. Hernandez scored in the 88th for Panama, which will face the top-ranked Americans on Sunday.

Trinidad and Tobago went into the tournament ranked No. 52 in the world and faces Mexico on Sunday.