Harmon, Guam – Guam is in prime position to qualify for the next round of the 2013 AFC U16 Women’s Championship following its 1-0 win over Hong Kong on opening day of the Group D qualifier at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Harmon.
Guam co-captain Abbey Iriarte was credited with Guam’s lone goal after accurately sending her corner kick right into the penalty box, with the ball eventually making its way into the goal in the 67th minute.
“Going into the game, we knew we wanted to go hard and catch them on their heels,” Guam head coach Kristin Thompson said during a post-match press conference.
The team seemed to heed Thompson’s words, dictating the game’s tempo and physicality from the opening whistle. After controlling the midfield, Guam’s “Mini-Masakåda” pressured Hong Kong high, keeping its defenders on high alert through most of the half. In one instance, Guam’s Yae Kawauchi found herself positioning herself for a header drawing out Hong Kong’s keeper Ng Yuen Ki, but Ng was able punch the ball down in front of the goal. In a panic, two Hong Kong defenders protected the undefended goal by kicking the ball away to prevent any follow up shots.
Although Hong Kong started the second half seemingly stronger, the visiting team still had difficulty reading its opponents’ long passes to the wings, expending extra energy on long sprints to stop Guam’s attack. Desperate defensive plays by Hong Kong awarded Guam with a handful of corner kicks mostly from the right side, which allowed Guam to score the game-winning goal.
Guam’s Colleen Naden was barreling down the right flank with the ball undefended, and drew out Ng. Ng was able to get her foot on the ball to stop Naden’s run toward the goal, but the ball rolled past the goal line awarding a Guam corner kick. Iriarte took the corner kick and was credited with scoring the match’s lone goal after Ng mishandled the ball in the air.
Hong Kong had one last chance to tie the match in injury time in the second half, but was unable to convert a free kick toward the goal.
“They haven’t played 11-a-side game before they come to Guam … so they didn’t have any experience (to go on) for a tough opponent,” said Hong Kong head coach Ng Wing Kum. Ng added that the team had only trained together in the 11-a-side format for only two months prior to arriving in Guam for the tournament and was satisfied with her team’s effort during the match.
With the loss, Hong Kong will need a win against Chinese Taipei Thursday to stay in qualifying contention for the next round of the tournament. Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei will officially kick off at 4 p.m. instead of 4:30 p.m. as originally scheduled. Guam next plays Saturday at 4 p.m. against Chinese Taipei for the chance to win the Group D qualifier. The top two teams from each group advance to the next stage of the competition, which will be held in 2013.