Matao to open WCQ Round 2 vs Maldives, Philippines

[July 27, 2019 - Harmon, Guam] The Matao, Guam men’s national football team, will open its bid in Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification with a pair of home matches against the Maldives and the Azkals from the Philippines on Sept. 5 and Sept. 10, respectively, at the Guam Football Association National Training Center.

Following the official Round 2 draw held earlier this month, Guam’s team will be preparing to play a total of eight matches – four home matches and four away matches – in a span of nine months.

Guam was drawn first in the pool of 40 countries and will face China PR and Syria, in addition to the Maldives and the Philippines, in a home-and-away format. China PR is the top-ranked country in the group, currently No. 71 in the Jul. 25 release of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.


Guam stamps authority vs Bhutan to advance in qualifiers

[June 12, 2019 - Harmon, Guam] Guam's home fans were treated to a spectacular display of high-level football in a 5-0 win by the Matao against Bhutan Tuesday afternoon in the second-leg fixture of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 at the Guam Football Association National Training Center.

Needing to win by two goals to advance, the Matao ransacked Bhutan for five to stamp its authority on the pitch and proving the 1-0 loss in Bhutan a total aberration. Captain Jason Cunliffe scored the eventual series winner in the 26th minute and tacked on a pair of goals in the second half to lead Guam with a hat trick.

"Playing at home is something we always enjoy as the stadium is a fortress for us. We are very difficult to beat at home and we were determined to deliver what the fans wanted," Cunliffe said in the post-match press conference. "Bhutan did well in the first leg as they pressed us - we ran away a little bit from our principles, but in the return leg, we played the way we were expected to.


Sports psychology key in elite athletes development

[June 10, 2019 - Harmon, Guam] Playing a sport at the highest level can take a toll on an elite athlete – both physically and mentally – with recovery in both areas key for top performance.

Guam’s national football teams have consistently included strength and conditioning coaches, physiotherapists, trainers, and team doctors; in the current Matao set up, the team now has added Sports Psychologist Marcel Noronha from Australia to its staff.

“Sports psychology focuses on how our mental state can impact athletic performance,” Noronha said. “Just like you would see a strength and conditioning coach to get stronger, fitter, and faster, you go and see a Sports Psychologist to train your mind. After all, it is your mind that regulates the body. Top teams and athletes understand the importance of the mental game and the benefits of mental health and wellbeing in relation to their performance.”


Mariano earns call-up to Matao, final squad list named

[June 4, 2019 - Harmon, Guam] For every championship, trophy, and medal that fans see and celebrate with their team, the underlying sacrifices, work-family commitment juggling, and the pressure to meet physical and mental demands of being a top athlete are not always visible.

For Matao veteran Ian Mariano, the work doesn’t stop with selection to the Guam’s final national football team roster, but instead intensifies each day closer to kickoff.

“In my opinion, there are two main factors for team selection – the first is sacrifice,” Mariano said. “Are you willing to sacrifice time with family and friends to train, regardless of the time of day? Are you willing to sacrifice holidays to fly to foreign countries to compete? Are you willing to sacrifice your child’s school performance or program to show up to training? The second factor may seem like a cliché, but for me, it’s hard work. Yes, it’s one thing to show up for sessions, but to actually put your head down and grind out the hours you’re there for is another animal.”


Matao debut new national logo in World Cup qualifiers

[May 31, 2019 - Harmon, Guam] When the Matao, Guam men’s national football team, steps onto the pitch in Thimphu, Bhutan for the first leg match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 on June 6, the team will debut the newly created national team badge on their match kits.

The new badge, which took almost a year to develop, features cultural elements for identity, including a latte stone, the shape of the Guam seal, Chief Gadao cave painting depiction to represent the Matao, and tropical hibiscus flowers in a rising depiction to represent the Masakåda, Guam women’s national football team. The wording, “Prutehi yan Difende” is adopted from the Inifresi, which Guam’s national team players recite ahead of every match and training session.

“As a National Team player, this badge serves as a reminder that we are representing much more than just ourselves,” said Mark Chargualaf, a midfielder called up to the Matao for June’s qualification matches.


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