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GUAM DROPS TURKMENISTAN ON HOME TURF

It was the biggest soccer game ever played on Guam and the home team delivered an unforgettable performance in front of the fans by defeating Turkmenistan in the World Cup Qualifiers at the GFA Training Facility Thursday evening.

By Jose Terlaje

Just one day after the Guam National Rugby team defeated China in the Division III Asian Rugby Football Union championship game in Jakarta, the Guam National Soccer Team tipped Turkmenistan 1-0, a country with a population of over five million people. It was the first time ever that Guam hosted a World Cup Qualifying match.

Turmenistan was ranked #173 in the world while Guam was #174.

Although the win came off an own goal by Turkmenistan’s Serdar Annaorazov, the Guam National Team, or Matao, displayed soccer of a much higher caliber than we’ve seen in the past few years.

Right at the start, the Matao went after the Turkmenistan goal, pressuring the visitors’ defense. In the early minutes, Ryan Guy found Shane Malcolm deep inside the Turkmenistan goal box but Malcolm’s shot was off target.  Moments later, Matao Captain Jason Cunliffe had a long carry through the midfield before passing to teammate Alexander Francis who connected with Ian Mariano but Marianos header was no good.

Turkmenistan then had a chance on goal with a breakaway by Hojaahmedov Bahtiyar but his shot was no good. The Matao then got the ball back and proceeded to move it down the field. A Guam pass was deflected out of bounds, giving Guam a throw-in. The throw-in was taken by Guy who sent the ball deep across the Turkmenistan goal box and eventually hit a Turkmenistan defender and bounced into the back of the net, giving Guam a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute.

Guam's team captain Jason Cunliffe was more determined than ever to get a win in front of the home crowd. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam’s team captain Jason Cunliffe was more determined than ever to get a win in front of the home crowd. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

The Matao kept control of the ball for a majority of the half, getting good chances from Cunliffe and Guy dominating the midfield. Guam’s Francis helped keep up the Matao’s offensive rhythm with excellent crosses throughout the half. The Matao’s AJ DelaGarza also contributed greatly in the half, winning almost every ball sent through the air by Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan had few chances to score in the half but as the first half came to an end, Turkmenistan Captain Atayev Ahmet sent a laser towards the Guam goal but keeper Doug Herrick dove forward to punch it over the top. The half ended after an unsuccessful corner by Turkmenistan as Guam remained in the lead 1-0.

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Early in the second half, the Matao continued to run on the momentum from the first half as Malcolm was able to break through the Turkmenistan defense and get a 1-on-1 with the Turkmenistan keeper but his shot was deflected out. The Matao’s momentum then seemed to die down a few minutes later.

Turkmenistan then got into an offensive rhythm and were constantly attacking the Guam goal but were stopped time and time again by DelaGarza and Mason Grimes. Doug Herrick also picked up numerous saves during Turkmenistan’s offensive drive.

As the Turkmenistan team continued to pressure team Guam, the Matao’s Brandon Marquee stepped up and began to intercept passes in the midfield.

A good portion of the half was traded possessions between the teams and as time ran down, tension began to rise and the game became more and more physical. Multiple yellow cards were given to both teams.

Late in the half Turkmenistan was given a number of corners and free kicks but the Matao defense stayed solid and denied all chances for them to score. Travis Nicklaw then subbed in for Ian Mariano at striker in hopes of getting the Matao offense going. Nicklaw then had a chance to score off a connection from Guy but the shot was off.

With the half coming to an end, Turkmenistan started to look desperate, taking multiple shots from outside the box. The defensive core of DelaGarza, Francis, Nicklaw and Grimes kept Guam safe from any shots taken by Turkmenistan. The teams then traded possession as the final whistle blew, ending the match 1-0 with Guam coming out on top.

Guam hosts India (#141) on Tuesday at the GFA Training Center in Harmon at 4:15 pm.

PHOTO GALLERY:

Shane Malcom of Guam readies for the incoming ball. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Shane Malcolm of Guam readies for the incoming ball. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam's Jason Cunliffe heads a pass towards the goal in the second half. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam’s Jason Cunliffe heads a pass towards the goal in the second half. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam's John Matik fights for possession of the ball against Turkmenistan. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam’s John Matik fights for possession of the ball against Turkmenistan. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam's Ian Mariano avoids the slide by Turkmenistan. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam’s Ian Mariano avoids the slide by Turkmenistan. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam's Mason Grimes celebrates after defeating Turkmenistan in the World Cup Qualifiers. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Guam’s Mason Grimes celebrates after defeating Turkmenistan in the World Cup Qualifiers. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

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(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Ryan Guy from Guam clears a kick to keep the Turkmenistan offense away from the backline. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

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