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MATAO MOVES UP TO 169

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PRESS RELEASE – The Matao’s ascent in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings continues in the latest listing released Thanksgiving Day, with Guam moving up two spots to No. 169, again its highest-ever rank to date.

“The continuous rise in FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings is testament to the increasing involvement and investment by the GFA and the local community put into Guam’s national program,” said Richard Lai, Guam Football Association president. “For years, Guam has been a global model for other football associations in terms of management, constant upgrades to the national training center, and development programs. We are really now seeing all of this translate into the success of Guam’s teams in the international arena, and I’m very proud of all of our athletes.”

Guam was recently recognized on FIFA.com for achieving its highest-ever ranking to date. The monthly ranking system, which will next be updated on Dec. 19, takes into account the last four years of activity, with the current year weighted the most heavily. Big wins, including a 3-0 thrashing of Chinese Taipei in Myanmar and a 2-0 shut out of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, as well as a draw with Laos, a higher-ranked country, contributed largely to Guam’s points earned in 2013. In 2012, Guam earned a pair of 3-0 wins over Macau and a 1-1 draw with Chinese Taipei. Other matches against the Philippines and Hong Kong were decided by only a single goal.

“With the continued support from GFA President Richard Lai and the GFA Executives for more international matches, we will definitely reach our short-term goal of being ranked in the top 150 in the world in 2014,” said Gary White, head coach of the Matao. “We have developed a national playing style that is working for our athletes and has contributed to Guam’s head-turning success internationally – with football fans around the world and international media.

“This upward momentum is truly inspiring for our young elite athletes in the GFA National Academy, who in years time, will be the next generation of Guam’s national teams,” White added.

The GFA National Academy was created in 2012 under the directorship of White, supported in great part by the Japan Football Association. The overall academy curriculum emphasizes high academic performance in school through the program’s certified tutors and nutritional education, in addition to the most modern, age-appropriate training provided by Guam’s licensed coaches. The organized technical training on the pitch allows academy athletes to develop individually to better compete among their peers in youth international competition, and to make the players increasingly attractive for U.S. collegiate soccer program scouts for athletic scholarships after high school.

Visiting Matao and L.A. Galaxy star defender A.J. DeLaGarza, who joined Guam’s team in its Southeast Asia Tour in Laos and Cambodia, had the opportunity to interact directly with the National Academy’s athletes during his short visit to Guam and was impressed by the dedication and commitment of the GFA to effectively strengthen its national program for years to come.

Following the Matao’s win in Cambodia, three players were invited to stay in Phnom Penh for a 10-day trial with the country’s most decorated professional club, the Phnom Penh Crown FC. With increased success in the international arena, more opportunities to play in professional leagues may open for future national team star players.

 In a Guam Football Association file photo, the starting 11 players in the Matao's match against Hong Kong pose for a photo. In the photo are, from the bottom row, Ian Adamos, Zachary DeVille, Ryan Guy, Elias Merfalen and Scott Leon Guerrero. Standing in the back row are from left, George Lai, GFA Executive Committee member, Robby De Guzman and James Okuhama from the Matao staff, Douglas Herrick, Travis Nicklaw, Shawn Nicklaw, Micah Paulino, Jonahan Romero, Jason Cunliffe, and Matao head coach Gary White. (courtesy photo)

In a Guam Football Association file photo, the starting 11 players in the Matao’s match against Hong Kong pose for a photo. In the photo are, from the bottom row, Ian Adamos, Zachary DeVille, Ryan Guy, Elias Merfalen and Scott Leon Guerrero. Standing in the back row are from left, George Lai, GFA Executive Committee member, Robby De Guzman and James Okuhama from the Matao staff, Douglas Herrick, Travis Nicklaw, Shawn Nicklaw, Micah Paulino, Jonahan Romero, Jason Cunliffe, and Matao head coach Gary White. (courtesy photo)

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