(Reuters) – Panama will aim to continue their fairytale run at the Copa America against a high-flying Colombia in the quarter-finals on Saturday in Glendale, Arizona.

Panama finished second in Group C, outperforming the United States and earning their quarter-final spot behind Uruguay.

The Panamanians suffered an initial 3-1 defeat to Uruguay, but turned their fortunes around with a 2-1 victory over the United States and sealed their quarter-final place with a 3-1 win against Bolivia.

While the team’s victories have been impressive, Panama will enter the match as the underdogs against Colombia.

“We’re not going to take anything for granted,” Panama coach Thomas Christiansen told reporters on Friday.

“If they (Colombia) want to look down on us, that’s their thing. But we are going to take this match very seriously.”

This year’s Copa America marks only the second time Panama has participated, and the first time they have made it to the knockout stage, with Christiansen saying he was well aware of the magnitude of their achievement.

“I don’t need to tell (his players) anything,” Christiansen said.

“They know that they have made history. But we don’t want to stop there. We want to try and go a step further, and hopefully we can do that.”

The winner of the match will take on either Uruguay or Brazil in the semi-finals in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday.

Despite the fighting spirit Panama have displayed in the tournament, defeating Colombia would be a monumental task.

The Colombians are currently on a 26-match unbeaten run, with their 10-match winning streak only recently broken by a 1-1 draw with Brazil.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, and on Saturday we have to come out and play very focused,” said Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez.

“We are going step by step. Panama will be difficult, but we will play with a lot of quality.”

This will be Colombia’s sixth consecutive Copa America quarter-final, with the previous four having gone to penalties. They emerged victorious in 2016 and 2021, but fell short in 2015 and 2019.

(Reporting by Field Level Media; Editing by William Mallard)

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