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MATAO TRAVEL TEAM SET

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PRESS RELEASE – They’re ready to rock and hungry for more wins.

Thirteen of Guam’s top men’s soccer players will be boarding a plane Sunday to compete in the Philippines Football Peace Cup scheduled for Sept. 25 to 29 in Manila, Philippines. In the Philippines, the 13 team members will meet with six flying in from the U.S. and Jonahan Romero, who plays in the professional United Football League in the Philippines.

“I feel very confident with this team,” said Micah Paulino, who will be flying from New York to join the Matao, Guam men’s national team, in the Philippines. “Most of us were raised together and that bond is very important. The more we come together to play as a team, the better our chemistry on the field. It shows – we’re coming off wins from the East Asian Cup preliminary competition this past summer.

“For me, I can’t compare these experiences with any other. This level of competition is the highest I’ve ever experienced thus far – these have been the best games of my life,” the 19-year-old Niagara University student said.

Other members of the Matao flying directly to Manila from the U.S. mainland are New England Revolution’s Ryan Guy, Scott Leon Guerrero, Zachary DeVille, Reyn Johnson and Douglas Herrick. Matao team members flying together from Guam are Joshua Borja, Christian Schweizer, Ian Mariano, Marcus Lopez, Jason Cunliffe, Ian Adamos, Dylan Naputi, Mark Chargualaf, Thaddeus Atalig, Dominic Gadia, Scott Spindel, Joseph Laanan and Elias Merfalen.

Cunliffe will return as captain of the Matao. Herrick and Laanan have been chosen as Guam’s goalkeepers. Of the 20 total team members in this tournament, Cunliffe and Gadia have the most international caps for Guam.

“I’m excited to be back with the group as a player,” said Gadia, who accepted the assistant coach position earlier this year while he was resting an injury. “I’m fortunate that I’ve recovered. Now I’m even more driven to help this team succeed, especially coming off the wins from the East Asian Cup preliminary competition in July.

“I hope to bring to the team my experience as a player and also as a former member of the coaching staff. Again, I’m just very fortunate I’ve recovered and will be able to play. I’m not taking anything for granted,” added Gadia, who received his first international cap on the men’s national team in 2002 when he was just 16 years old. Gadia also is a former captain of the team, with the 2011 Pacific Games in Noumea, New Caledonia, as his most recent international cap as captain.

The Matao’s first test will be a rematch against the Azkals at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Manila time. The team will also play Chinese Taipei at 4 p.m. Thursday Manila time and Macau at 4 p.m. Saturday Manila time. Of the four teams, Guam is third based on FIFA world-rankings. The Azkals are the highest-ranked team at 150 and Chinese Taipei is next at No. 176. Guam is No. 185 in the world, while Macau is the lowest-ranked team in the tournament at No. 200.

Gary J. White is at the helm of the team as head coach. White will be assisted directly by James Okuhama and Merfalen. Joe Roberto, Robby De Guzman and Dr. Robert Leon Guerrero continue as team manager, equipment manager and team doctor, respectively.

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