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MATAO MOVES UP 10 SPOTS

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PRESS RELEASE – The Matao, Guam men’s national football team, will have another chance at improving its June performance against the Azkals, the Philippines’ national team, in the Paulino Alcantara Cup in September in Bacolod City, Philippines.

Members of the Matao, Guam men’s national football team, get together in a group huddle to hoist the East Asian Cup preliminary competition trophy cup following its 3-0 win over Macau July 22. The win catapulted Guam ahead 10 spots in FIFA world rankings. (courtesy photo)

With the Matao’s recent ten-spot jump in FIFA world rankings following its 3-0 victory over Macau in the East Asian Cup Preliminary Competition in July, the team received and accepted an invitation to compete in the tournament, formerly known as the Long Teng Cup, scheduled for September 25 to 29.

“The invitation we received to play in this tournament is testament to all the hard work the team has put in to gain the respect on the pitch it deserves,” said Matao head coach Gary White. “The steady improvement the Matao has displayed over the past few months has caught the attention of higher-ranked opponents in the region; however, there is still much more to gain.

“Competing in this tournament will be an excellent tune-up for the second round of the East Asian Cup in Hong Kong in December,” White added.

A final 18-man traveling team roster will be released closer to the date of the tournament. The current squad has returned to training following the East Asian Cup preliminary competition last month.

The four-nation tournament, which had been held previously in Taiwan the past two years, featured national teams invited from Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, the Philippines and Macau. Hong Kong won the inaugural and second edition of the annual tournament. The Philippines’ best finish was second place in 2011, despite its players taking Golden Boot honors both years – Ian Araneta in 2010 and Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong in 2011.

The Philippines currently is the highest-ranked team in the tournament at 150 in the world. Chinese Taipei is second at 175 with Guam at the former host country’s heels at 184. Macau enters as the lowest-ranked team in the tournament at No. 201 in the world. 2012 is Macau’s worst year in its history in official FIFA rankings, surpassing the 200-mark for the first time.

http://iconnectasia.com/iconnectguam/Although Guam will not have a chance to play Hong Kong in the September tournament, the Matao will get its chance against the No. 152-ranked country in the second round of the East Asian Cup in December.

Guam will find a familiar foe in Chinese Taipei, also competing in the East Asian Cup. North Korea, No. 91 in the world, is the other nation slated to also play in the December competition to be played in Hong Kong. A newcomer to the East Asian Football Federation, Australia, ranked No. 24 in the world, is anticipated to compete against the other four nations to qualify for the lone slot into the final round against Japan, South Korea and China in the biannual tournament.

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