The island’s soccer fans are in for a treat today with Matao taking on Bhutan at 3:15 p.m. at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Harmon. It’ll be their second matchup for Round 1 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification.
The teams' last meeting in Bhutan on June 6 resulted in a 1-0 loss for Matao, who gave up a goal in the 35th minute to the home team.
With the loss still rubbing a little raw, Matao head coach Karl Dodd said the men of Matao are chomping at the bit, hoping to make up for that loss.
“We spoke after the game about not having any regrets,” Dodd said. “There were a lot of regrets during our last game when we walked off the pitch. We felt we were not brave enough, which was unacceptable. We are just looking to be a lot braver (today) and to leave the field with no regrets.”
According to Dodd, it took two days for the team to travel back to Guam. During that time, the team had a good talk, analyzing and breaking down what went wrong.
“So when we were traveling, we didn’t want to feel sorry for ourselves, it was about picking ourselves up and getting our morale back into the group,” Dodd said. “They (the team) are now believing in themselves and they are looking to make up for what happened in the first game.”
After dropping the close match, what is Dodd expecting Matao to do in today’s match?
Dodd said, “We will come out hard and play, we just need to turn it up and play. We just kind of froze or were a second behind. We just didn't deliver.”
During the last game, Matao appeared to be a step behind Bhutan.
When asked about the team’s performance, Dodd replied, “If you are not mentally prepared or switched on, you will always be second to the ball.”
He stressed having the right mentality and approaching the game with a better mindset.
“It’s about coming out with the right psyche and ready to get at them,” he said. “Our players are more than capable of that and they are a lot better than what they showed the other night.”
According to Bhutan head coach Pema Dorji, his team is very tired from all the traveling, but they were able to get a training session in when they were in Bangkok, Thailand.
“It took 48 hours to get to Guam,” Dorji said. “My players are a little tired because we arrived here at 4 a.m. (Sunday).”
But, Dorji is optimistic about his team’s overall performance.
“Going into the match tomorrow, I will tell my players to give 100%, whether it is hot or cold, and do your best,” he said. “So, definitely they will do that tomorrow.”