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MATAO COACH ADDS YOUTH MEMBERS TO TRAINING CAMP

Men’s National Team taking U20/U17 members

PRESS RELEASE – Introducing and integrating talented players from youth national teams to the senior level will strengthen not only teams, but also Guam’s National Program as a whole.

For an upcoming Matao training camp in Korea Republic, Guam National Team Head Coach Sang Hoon Kim called up seven players still featuring for their respective youth national teams.

“Selecting talented young players from the youth national teams and introducing them to a highly professional environment that they do not normally experience will help them grow as players individually and also will help strengthen the teams they lead,” Kim said. “I want them to fully experience this level of training and competition, learn everything possible, and be inspired to work toward being in this type of environment regularly. I also want them to gain the confidence to bring their experiences and a new level of professionalism back to their youth teams, especially with the upcoming AFC tournaments for the U20 and U17 National Teams. They are leaders of their teams and future leaders of the Matao.”

Eduardo Pedemonte, Jr. (in green vest) and James Gomez take part in a Guam U20 National Team training session ahead of a U20 National Team training camp in Manila, Philippines earlier this year in this file photo. Pedemonte and Gomez are part of a small group of youth national team players that have been called up to a Guam National Team training camp in Korea Republic beginning July 30. Of the 30 players selected, Pedemonte, Gomez, and five others are still eligible to play in their respective youth national teams in AFC U20 and U17 Asian Cup qualifiers later this year.

From Guam’s U20 squad that took part in a training camp in the Philippines in June, Kim called up James Gomez, Morgan McKenna, Elijah Ochoa, Eduardo Pedemonte, Jr., and Alexander Stenson. From Guam’s U17 Boys team that competed in the Davis Legacy College Showcase and the 2022 Surf Cup earlier this year, Kim called up Erwin Manibusan, Jr. and Jacob Toves. Of the seven, Gomez, McKenna, Pedemonte, and Stenson have been called up to the Matao previously. Gomez and Pedemonte have earned international caps for Guam at the senior level in official competition.

 Erwin “E.J.” Manibusan, Jr. plays the ball away from a Northern Mariana Islands defender during a training match earlier this year in this file photo. Manibusan is part of a small group of youth national team players that have been called up to a Guam National Team training camp in Korea Republic beginning July 30. Of the 30 players selected, Manibusan and six others are still eligible to play in their respective youth national teams in AFC U20 and U17 Asian Cup qualifiers later this year.

“In football there’s an old adage that says, ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough,’ and that is exactly how I feel,” said Jason Cunliffe, captain of the Guam National Team. “Being one of the local Matao players, I get to see the U20 and U17 boys in person, so I’m aware of their capabilities. Integrating them as early as possible will only benefit our overall football development as a national and I look forward to having them in with us during this training camp.”

The seven youth national team players and Cunliffe will join 22 other players in Korea for the training camp. The other players are Shawn Aguigui, Noah Bamba, Joey Ciochetto, Marlon Evans, John Michael Guidroz, Kyle Halehale, Shane Healy, Micah Hennegan, Ricky Katsumata, Aaron Krueger, Alexander Lee, Justin Lee, Nathaniel Lee, Marcus Lopez, Shane Malcolm, Jacob McDonald, Devan Mendiola, Anthony Moon, Anthony Quidachay, Ryan Quitugua, Jonahan Romero, and Alec Taitague.

The players will take part in eight field sessions, five gym sessions, and four training matches packed into nine days. The training matches will be against Soongsil University, the Korea U20 National Team, Yangju Citizen FC from the K-3 League, and Suwon FC from the K-1 League. This type of schedule and training match opposition is particularly uncommon for Guam’s youth national players and will test their abilities moving up to the senior level.

“These young boys clearly have the ability to be great, but as in anything in life, you are going to go through adversity and have some ups and downs,” Cunliffe explained. “The key to being really successful is being consistent and doing the little things really well. Nowadays, in modern society, everything is about instant gratification and unfortunately, that has manifested itself in the younger generations in a way where they seem to think they can just quit when things don’t quite go their way immediately and move on to something else.

“I hope these boys see the type of work it takes to be successful and that they fall in love with the process of real commitment. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but when you find something that you truly love, you commit to it wholeheartedly. I hope that is something they can take away with them after this training camp and they become hungrier and even more motivated to achieve their goals,” Cunliffe added.

Players selected to the training camp will meet in Korea Republic by July 30 and begin training sessions July 31. The team departs Korea Republic Aug. 9.

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