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MINI MATAO TO COMPETE IN CHINA

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The Mini Matao, Guam's U14 Boys national team poses for a group photo. Pictured in the front row from left to right are: Sena Morimoto, Ryo Suzuki, GianCarlo Abril, Samuel Larkin, Jacob Herring and Takumi Odell. Pictured in the middle row from left to right are: Tyler Presto, Leon Morimoto, Vincent Cruz, Anthony Moon, Aidan Dickson and Rhys Paynter. Pictured in the back row from left to right are head coach Brett Maluwelmeng, Preston Boynton, An Truong, Xavier Naputi, Takumi Ito, Clayton Mitchell, Ethan Elwell and assistant coach Julius "J.R." Campos. Not pictured are Noah Jaye and assistant coach Francis "F.J." Chargualaf.  (courtesy photo)

The Mini Matao, Guam’s U14 Boys national team poses for a group photo. Pictured in the front row from left to right are: Sena Morimoto, Ryo Suzuki, GianCarlo Abril, Samuel Larkin, Jacob Herring and Takumi Odell. Pictured in the middle row from left to right are: Tyler Presto, Leon Morimoto, Vincent Cruz, Anthony Moon, Aidan Dickson and Rhys Paynter. Pictured in the back row from left to right are head coach Brett Maluwelmeng, Preston Boynton, An Truong, Xavier Naputi, Takumi Ito, Clayton Mitchell, Ethan Elwell and assistant coach Julius “J.R.” Campos. Not pictured are Noah Jaye and assistant coach Francis “F.J.” Chargualaf. (courtesy photo)

PRESS RELEASE – The Mini Matao, Guam’s U14 Boys National team, is set to kick off 4:30 p.m. Saturday Beijing time against Chinese Taipei in Group G of the first-ever AFC U14 Championship Qualifier in China. The team departs early Thursday morning.

Guam has been placed in Group G with China, P.R., Chinese Taipei, Korea Republic and the Northern Mariana Islands. Of the five teams in Group G, the top two will advance to the championship round next year.

“It is definitely our target to qualify,” said Mini Matao head coach Brett Maluwelmeng. “It’s not going to be easy, as we have China and Korea Republic in our group, probably two of the strongest teams in the entire tournament.

“We have a good mix of players. Our strongest attribute is that the majority of the players on the team have been training and playing together for a year in the National Academy. We’ve also recruited some boys outside of the Academy to help the squad,” Maluwelmeng added.

Maluwelmeng, and assistant coaches Francis “F.J.” Chargualaf and Julius “J.R.” Campos will take a total of 19 players to the tournament: GianCarlo Abril, Preston Boynton, Vincent Cruz, Aidan Dickson, Ethan Elwell, Jacob Herring, Takumi Ito, Noah Jaye, Samuel Larkin, Clayton Mitchell, Anthony Moon, Leon Morimoto, Sena Morimoto, Xavier Naputi, Takumi Odell, Rhys Paynter, Tyler Presto, Ryo Suzuki, and An Truong.

Of the 19 players, five play for Wings FC, four each for the Strykers and Quality Distributors, three for the Sidekicks and one for the Tigers in the Chevrolet Robbie Webber Youth Soccer League. Jaye, from California, plays for Ballistic United Soccer Club in Pleasanton, Calif. Sena Morimoto and Paynter are the squad’s goalkeepers. Jaye, younger brother of the Matao’s Dallas Jaye, currently is training as a field player, but also is the team’s third goalkeeper if needed, Maluwelmeng said.

Also traveling with the team is team manager Gianna Tenorio and team doctor, Dr. Scott Larkin.

After Guam’s Saturday match against Chinese Taipei, the team will take on Korea Republic Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Beijing time. The Mini Matao will take a break Monday and next play Tuesday at 2 p.m. Beijing time against the host nation. Guam’s final match will be against the Northern Mariana Islands Thursday at 2 p.m. Beijing time.

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