Before the Guam national men’s football team takes on the Azkals for an Independence Day friendly match in Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, InterAKTV had a chance to have a brief email interview with coach Gary White.
He shared some very interesting comments on their preparations for the Azkals game and expresses confidence in getting a good result against the higher ranked Philippine team.
What are your expectations coming into the game against the Philippines?
To prepare and utilize this experience to see which players have the aptitude and desire to start in my 11 for our East Asian Football Championships in July.
To show the region our style of play and trademark. Also to introduce our improvements against strong opposition.
To showcase our talented young players to the professional teams, there scouts better be ready as there will be competition for the signatures of many of our players.
I expect the match to be a real test for my young squad to see who steps up and wants to be counted.
How will you prepare to play against a Philippine side that is hungry for a win (after two draws), tactically and mentally?
The Azkals hunger does not affect my thoughts and any hunger they may have for a win is nowhere near close the famine our team has, to showcase our style, development and players.
You have a very young team, with captain Jason Cunliffe being the most senior at 28 years old, is this correct? There are also Christian Scweizer and Dylan Naputi who are only 17! With the youth players coming in, would you say the future is looking bright for Guam football, which was only affiliated with FIFA in 1996?
Yes, our average age is 21, as we have restructured the entire national team program since my appointment. We feel if the players are good enough, they are old enough. No player has been selected due to their age, they have been selected due to their impact.
We may not be as old as some other national associations but we are better placed for success than most due to our executives’ vision and the impact they have had regionally and internationally especially our president. The infrastructure that is currently in place and the vision for future development in Guam is what attracted me to the GFA.
It seems as if there are some Guam players with Filipino lineage. Can you introduce us to them?
Many of our players have a connection to the Philippines, but you can see them in action on the 12th.
What do you know about Philippine football and the Azkals? Has [Kaya FC player] Jonah Romero given you the lowdown on the strengths and weaknesses of the Azkals?
We are aware of the sudden huge upswing in with national team and respect it, we also know the game is loved in your country.
As with any professional program we have done our research and produced detailed dossiers and scouting analysis on your team and the key players in preparation for this game.
Recently, Guam’s national team launched its new identifying nickname, you are now known as “Matao”. Can you give us a brief backgrounder as to its meaning and why it was chosen?
Matao, in the local language Chamorro, refers to the highest class of indigenous people in ancient Chamorro society. The island’s top warriors, chiefs, fishermen, and later, iron workers were generally from the Matao.
Matao was chosen for the Guam men’s national team because it suggests strength, pride, nobility, and leadership, a few ideals and values representative of the team.
Any message to the Filipinos and the Guamanians that will be watching?
Firstly , THANK YOU for this opportunity to perform for you on such an important day in your country and for assisting in our country’s football development by playing this FIFA international friendly against us. Very special thanks to all those with the PFF as without your cooperation and support none of this would be possible. We are truly grateful.
Enjoy the individual performances of our young team and our team’s style of play. You can say you saw our youngsters in action before they were famous.
The game on paper may look like there is much disparity in the levels from our age , experience and national pool of players, but thankfully the game is decided on the field not on paper. Don’t under estimate the power of belief and desire mixed with direction leadership and opportunity.
Again, Maraming Salamat Po, and Happy Independence Day!