Relatively decent weather conditions in Panama are expected to be countered by a sea of frenzied support at Estadio Rommel Fernandez on Tuesday when the home side takes on Canada.PANAMA CITY, Panama - For all that has been made of the potentially horrendous environment that awaited Canada ahead of Tuesday night's World Cup qualifying match against host Panama, it's been pretty pleasant so far.
The rain was limited to a few light showers early Monday, and overcast skies have kept the temperature comfortably hovering around 25 degrees C. All in all, the conditions are very similar to what they were in Toronto when the two teams met last week for what ultimately resulted in a 1-0 Canada victory.
With a similar forecast set for Tuesday, albeit with more precipitation expected, the Canadians can look forward to relatively decent weather, which Stephen Hart says should help both teams out.
"I think a wet pitch the ball moves really, really well, and our ball possession has been good," the Canada coach said after a training session at Estadio Rommel Fernandez, the site of Tuesday's match. "It's probably going to be balanced in terms of the possession."
It'll be a different story in the stands, however.
Tuesday's match is the hottest ticket in town, with locals taking to asking the small Canadian media contingent in Panama City for help with getting into the stadium.
Meanwhile, some of the hardcore supporters have already made headlines by camping outside of the Canadian team hotel on Sunday night and singing, chanting, and drumming for a couple of hours in an effort to disturb Canada's players.
On Monday night, a much bigger crowd is expected outside the hotel, with local radio stations encouraging fans to join in on a possible all-night street party starting an hour before midnight.
While nothing is guaranteed to happen outside the hotel, especially as authorities have been put on standby, it's a sure bet that Canada can expect very hostile conditions inside Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
"We know what to expect, we're away from home," Hart said. "It's going to be a very different crowd than playing at home, of course. But we have to deal with that, it's a part of playing in CONCACAF."
For their part, the Canadian players say that coping with tough crowds is just part of the game, especially as the matches become more important further into World Cup qualifying.
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"This is what we live for, this is what we enjoy," said midfielder Julian de Guzman. "I know it's not in our favour, but if you look at the atmosphere that we've pulled out the last couple of home games for the national team, I think it's been motivating and I think that's been one of our biggest pushes.
"You come into these hostle environments [and] they're gonna come out and try to knock us off our game, but at the end of the day, once that whistle is blown, it's whoever is best on the pitch and not outside the pitch."
Defender David Edgar echoed his teammates' sentiment, adding that the extra hostility sometimes helps the opposition get motivated.
"They've got the track around the field, so hopefully that takes out some of the atmosphere," Edgar noted, "but we're footballers, we've got to get used to playing in these environments, especially in CONCACAF.
"If you don't thrive on playing in atmospheres like this then why are you playing the game?"